TWO of the play-off contenders in Cheltenham League Division Four met at Lower Howsell Road for a derby game, writes Dev Ward.

Both sides went into the game on the back of good results with Vale having beaten Woodmancote 6-0 and Welland beating Cheltenham Saracens 13-1.

Both sides were missing key players with Vale without top scorer Ash Griffiths (away), Craig Morris (injury) and Jacob Hooper (away).

Mario Vieira had been ill on the morning and only managed to make the bench.

Welland were without hat-trick scorer Joe Crews who was involved with the first team against Fairfield Villa.

It was Vale who started the brighter, taking advantage of the strong wind behind them to apply pressure to the Welland backline.

After a couple of early chances it was left-back Alen Damadzic who pounced on a cross at the back post to fire past Lee Lacey after just five minutes.

Vale were able to double their lead on 11 minutes when Gav Hodgkins was fouled in the box and Vale were awarded a penalty.

Andre Rodrigues stepped up to place the ball in the bottom corner past Lacey only for the referee to order a retake.

Rodrigues coolly slotted the retake away to make it 2-0.

It wasn't long before Vale notched a third when Hodgkins played through Anthony Cakebread and the Vale striker fired home from inside the box on 16 minutes.

Vale continued to press and attempt to create further openings in an attempt to put the game to bed.

While Welland looked to attack through top scorer Jamie Harding and fellow winger Ash Robinson, however, both were finding little joy from Vale wing-backs Damadzic and Mike Buckland.

Harding did manage to make a breakthrough on the left but his shot from just inside the box was well dealt with by George Weaver in the Vale goal.

On 36 minutes a Cakebread free-kick was chipped into the box and Ben Goode's overhead kick went past Lacey.

Vale were 4-0 and looking in control when Harding was played through with two minutes to go to half-time.

He rounded Weaver and fired home with Buckland's attempts to block the ball on the line in vein.

This gave Welland a renewed sense of urgency and they came out the stronger at the start of the second half.

They nearly closed the gap further when Vieira was adjudged to have fouled the Welland forward and Harding stepped up to take the kick.

Weaver guessed correct and managed to save the shot, Vieira partly making up for the error by clearing the rebound before any Welland attackers could fire home.

Welland did miss further opportunities to attempt to close the gap with Robinson firing at George Weaver and a couple of headers just missing the goal.

Vale, however, managed to hold firm to record their eighth league victory on the bounce.

They host Cheltenham Saracens thirds on Saturday.