Darrell Clarke described Port Vale’s performance in their goalless draw at Cheltenham as “dominant” despite their inability to find a breakthrough.
Vale were looking to bounce back from their heartbreaking midweek defeat at Derby, when they led 1-0 until the 87th minute only to concede two late goals.
Substitute Rory Holden’s header against the bar in the second half was the closest they came to breaking through at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium, but Clarke saw plenty of positives.
“The only thing we lacked was a goal,” he said. “I thought we were the better team and we controlled large parts of the game.
“It was a great response to a big sucker punch on Tuesday night with a good performance.
“I look at our performance as a whole and the stuff that my coaching staff and myself have been working hard with, in getting control of the game.
“We did that for large parts; Rory Holden hits the crossbar, we had one across the line in the first half and these things will start going in for us.
“We have two top strikers coming back in a couple of weeks as well, so we will keep believing and keep working hard to keep putting in good performances.”
Cheltenham’s Luke Southwood was the busier of the two goalkeepers, beating away an effort from Dennis Politic in the 14th minute and helping a long-range drive from Aaron Donnelly over the bar in the 25th minute.
The home side did not create much, but Will Goodwin nodded just over the bar after meeting Will Ferry’s corner in the 28th minute.
Politic rolled the ball across the goalline in the 36th minute, but Sean Long cleared well and recovered well to block the follow-up.
Mal Benning forced Southwood into action again early in the second half before Alfie May was denied by Jack Stevens at the other end for Cheltenham’s best opportunity of the game in the 57th minute.
Vale were closest to snatching a winner when Holden’s header rebounded off the frame of the goal in the 74th minute.
The teams’ second draw of the season ends Cheltenham’s four-match losing streak, while Vale are without a win in three and seven points outside the play-off places.
Head coach Wade Elliott admitted his Cheltenham team looked on edge at times in front of an expectant home crowd.
“It was a little bit of a nervous performance and a little bit tentative, especially the first half,” he said.
“We got better and stronger as it went on and for the last minutes, we were on top and could have won it. But it was a little bit nervy, which I understand.
“They are an honest group; they are desperate to do well and they feel the weight of expectation sometimes. That was reflected at times in the performance, but it’s a clean sheet and a point, which we’ll respect and move onto the next one.”
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