Darren Moore on Michael Smith and Port Vale’s attempts to rough-up Sheffield Wednesday

Darren Moore expressed his pride in a controlled performance by Sheffield Wednesday in what became a feisty win against battling Port Vale.
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Two goals from Michael Smith – the first a penalty and the second a stunning outside-the-box effort – did the business to elevate the Owls to 97 league points for the calendar year and end 2022 on a high.

Ipswich Town’s draw at Portsmouth meant only a single ‘goal scored’ prevented Wednesday from jumping into the automatic promotion places.

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Two goal Michael Smith surronded by team-mates. Pic: Harriet Massey.Two goal Michael Smith surronded by team-mates. Pic: Harriet Massey.
Two goal Michael Smith surronded by team-mates. Pic: Harriet Massey.
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The 2-0 win over their Burslem visitors threatened to boil over at stages as Port Vale launched into a handful of zealous tackles amid a number of off-ball niggles between players on both sides.

“They came here for a result,” Moore told The Star. “They wanted to make a statement and rightly so.

“You could see with their mentality, the way they came and stepped into the arena and went about it that way.

“We put them on the back foot early in the game because of the way we were dominant in the game and the way we moved it. It disrupted their game plan.

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“There's resilience to this squad. Over 24 games we’ve had 13 clean sheets. That tells you about our resilience. We recruited resilience in the summer and that showed itself again tonight. You saw that resilience on the ball that suggested we are working our way back. That’s what we wanted.”

Wednesday have been goal-shy in the last few weeks of a year in which they scored 104 goals across all competitions, but two in each of their two matches shows an upward curve towards shaking that off, he said.

“I’ve said all along that we’ve got players in forward positions that can execute goals and great finishes and Smudger did it,” Moore continued.

“I was in the technical area and he was in control, shifted the defender and his contact on the ball was excellent. That put us two up and it was a matter of making sure we did our jobs. It’s a good three points.

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“I’m pleased for him. He’s been working extremely hard for us but centre-forwards want to score goals. He took them well and the second was an exceptional finish. I’m pleased it’s come here in front of our own fans.”