Date: 28th July 2007 at 7:52pm
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Well, it was my first pre-season match of the new season, and what a match to pick – we were out-fought, out-played, and out-classed by League One Port Vale.

Maybe I’m bad luck, the last time I went to a pre-season match was the infamous 4-0 hammering we took from Mansfield Town last summer, and this was just as bad, if not worse.

But it all started off on the right track, when someone offered me a free ticket on the gate, so it wasn’t all that bad, and I couldn’t say it was a waste of money, it was actually decent value!

Wednesday put out a decent team, with only Chris Brunt, Lee Bullen and Richard Wood the only noticeable absentees from the stating line-up, with Bully even joining the travelling Owls fans in the away end.

One of the few plus points from the match was the performance of Rob Burch. He wasn’t top class by any stretch of the imagination, and he made the odd fumble in the second half, but his handling seemed decent, he made some good stops especially in the first half to keep the scoreline as respectable as it could have been (that doesn’t sound right, does it). I don’t know what I was expecting, but he looks like a decent acquisition at least.

Jermaine Johnson was also one of the better performers in the bright orange Owls away strip, hitting the bar with a thunderous effort and going on a few tricky runs – hopefully next season will be JJ’s for the taking.

Now on to the negatives, and there were plenty, despite it only being a pre-season match – it just wasn’t good enough for the 400 or so Wednesday fans who made the trip to see the relatively strong starting line-up.

The match started off well enough with Wade Small troubling the Vale defence a number of times early on while Tudgay and Burton looked to be linking well in attack.

But after the Owls bossed the opening stages Vale came in to the game and never looked back after a clumsy foul by captain for the day Steve Watson saw Luke Rodgers pick the ball up and score from the spot.

And memories of Mansfield last season were looking even more probable for a repeat when Rodgers was given all the time in the world to fire an unstoppable shot by Burch minutes later to put the hosts in cruise control.

Akpo Sodje almost made it three before the end of the first half but Wednesday had Burch to thank as his finger tip save saw the effort cannon off the crossbar and to safety from Steve Watson.

Wednesday boss Brian Laws made just the one change after the break despite his men’s lacklustre effort, with Chris Brunt coming on to replace Wade Small.

But the changes meant precious little as the game carried on in the same vein as the first with Port Vale controlling proceedings and Wednesday offering little in the way of attacking options.

And it took just a matter of minutes for Vale to extend their lead as Akpo Sodje netted from close ranger after Luke Rodgers squared the ball despite looking to bag his hat-trick.

Youngster Mark Beevers and Leon Clarke were brought in to the fray to replace Marcus Tudgay and Deon Burton respectively while Tommy Spurr replaced Peter Gilbert at left-back and Burton O’Brien was also introduced to replace Kenny Lunt.

Let’s hope that the workout was of good use to some players desperate for match fitness ahead of the new season, because on that performance the future certainly isn’t bright, and it’s not orange, either…



Vale: Joe Anyon (Chris Martin), Mark McGregor (Justin Miller), Jason Talbot, Danny Whitaker (Paul Harsley), Craig Rocastle (Joe Cardle), Shane Tudor (Marco Adaggio), George Pilkington (Charlie O’Loughlin), Keith Lowe (Luke Prosser), Paul Edwards (Danny Glover), Akpo Sodje (Callum Willock), Luke Rodgers (Gareth Evans)

Wednesday: Rob Burch, Frank Simek, Peter Gilbert (Tommy Spurr), Steve Watson, Richard Hinds, Glenn Whelan, Jermaine Johnson, Kenny Lunt (Burton O’Brien), Deon Burton (Mark Beevers), Marcus Tudgay (Leon Clarke), Wade Small (Chris Brunt).