THE departure of players and injuries have not helped Broughton Park’s cause in the last couple of months and against the Vale of Lune stand-off, Jonny Thomas, suffered a neck injury that initially caused concern.
Play was halted immediately in the first half when the number 10 went down with what appeared to be a neck or back injury and after an visual examination by the respective physios an ambulance was called.
Thankfully the injury did not prove to be as serious as first thought and Jonny was able to rejoin his colleagues on the team coach for an early evening return.
Straight from the kick-off both sides showed their intentions and early in the game Ben Charnley pulled off a crunching tackle, just one of many forthright contributions from the number eight, who had an outstanding game in both defence and attack, and fully deserved the bubbly after being named the man of the match.
The ball was moved around with conviction; Tom Ball made a vital tackle on Park’s flying winger Ade Titiloye as play moved from end-to-end, but for most of the half the defences were on top.
Vale ended a period of Park pressure with an adventurous counter attack from deep in the 22 that involved Charnley leading the break-out and Ball eventually being tackled just as he threatened to race clear after passing half way.
Jonny Thomas’ injury caused the two teams to retire to the changing rooms and shortly after the restart Alex Baines popped his shoulder out, who until his injury was in lively form.
It took a while for both teams to recapture the earlier cohesion but as the half drew to a close a powerful Park scrummage shot the Vale back, James Hodder embarked on a dancing 50 metre run from his own half only to hauled down, and Jimmy Moore was sent to the sin-bin for a technical offence at maul.
Vale made a purposeful opening to the second half and with Moore back in the fray, Park were compressed in their own half.
With hail pinging down Vale at last broke through what had been a dogged Park defence.
Prolonged forward pressure close to Park’s line ended with replacement Dan Perry bullocking his way over for a try converted by Tom Carter in the 51st minute.
Three minutes later Ball expertly hoofed the ball infield and set off in chase.
What might have appeared a lost cause ended with Ball collecting an unconverted try but the all action full-back limped off in the 59th minute to be replaced by Andy Powers.
But the Vale still had plenty left in the locker because they went further ahead in the 63rd minute.
Moore kicked to the left, the predator Hodder pounced and bolted for the corner for a try converted by Carter imperiously with a mighty effort from wide on the left.
Suddenly the Vale’s star that appeared to be shinning brightly was eclipsed by a well worked Broughton Park unconverted try in the 66th minute touched down by Titiloye.
More shade clouded the Vale’s lead when the visitors’ forwards surged as a unit from a line out to provide a try for prop Guy Barlow, again the conversion failed to go over.
Gradually the Vale stabilised the situation. Adam Macluskie burst powerfully off his wing and replacement Damon Hall collected a loose ball to confidently set off towards Park’s goal line, but was edged into touch when it appeared he had slipped the defenders.
Vale have no game on Saturday and will return to action at Northwich on March 3 in what is certain to be a demanding encounter at Moss Farm, the home side having only lost one game at home this season to top of the table Sandbach.
Vale of Lune: T Ball (A Powers 59), J Hodder, A Garnett, J Moore, A Macluskie, T Carter, D Wilson, J Hesketh (D Hall 80), P Berry A Cowey, L Acton, S Wallbank, A Baines (D Perry 32), D Lin, B Charnley.
Man of the Match: Ben Charnley. Match sponsors: R G Parkin and Partners Limited.
Match Ball Sponsors: Friends of the Vale.