Tuesday 9th April 2013At Vale Park
Port Valev Aldershot Town
Attendance: 6,197 including 166 visiting supporters
PORT VALE: Chris Neal, Adam Yates, Anthony Griffith, Darren Purse, Doug Loft, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Tom Pope, John McCombe, Chris Birchall, Lee Hughes, Daniel Jones
SUBS: Sam Johnson, Louis Dodds, Chris Shuker, Calvin Andrew, Ben WIlliamson, Joe Davis, Richard Duffy
ALDERSHOT TOWN: Jamie Young, Ben Herd, Anthony Tonkin, Peter Vincenti, Craig Stanley, Terrell Forbes, Craig Reid, Sonny Bradley, Asa Hall, Jeff Goulding, Danny Rose
SUBS: Oliver Lancashire, Michael Rankine, Oliver Risser, Paul McCallum, Doug Bergqvist, Glenn Morris, Jordan Roberts
Vale made just the one change after Liam Chilvers failed a fitness test on his injured groin and John McCombe returned to the heart of the Vale defence to replace him.
Skipper Doug Loft (calf) and striker Lee Hughes [had both been slight doubts on the eve of the game, but each of them were declared fit and started the match.
Craig Stanley, signed from Bristol Rovers in the summer, was making his debut for the visitors. He broke his leg soon after signing for the Shots and has not even appeared on the bench since.
Mark Grew had warned before the game that Vale would need to be patient and it soon became evident that he was correct, but that doesn’t mean Aldershot packed their defence.
They were causing plenty of problems at the other end of the pitch, throwing bodies forward to keep the Vale defence busy.
Whenever the visitors were awarded a free kick, they threw six, seven or eight men into the Vale box, forcing Vale to bring players back, meaning when the ball was cleared there was hardly any Vale player available to receive the ball.
On the odd occasion Vale managed to push on at the other end of the pitch, they found plenty of red shirts behind the ball to frustrate them.
This game was certainly not destined to match the spectacle of four days earlier, when the home side demolished Burton Albion. This was, as Grew had predicted, a completely different game altogether.
It was a night when the supporters were having to be patient too. They suffered in silence for a while but before long they were doing their bit to try to lift the players.
Vale gradually managed to get on top, but with no reward for their effort they were always going to be susceptible to the counter attack, so had to be wary of throwing too many bodies forward.
GOAL:Vale finally got the breakthrough they desired in first half stoppage time when Aldershot only half cleared. JENNISON MYRIE-WILLIAMS collected, cut inside from the right and sent a screamer into the top left hand corner of the net.
The second half started very much in the same way that the first half had, with Aldershot again throwing plenty of bodies forward in order to keep Vale pinned back inside their own half.
Jamie Young in the Aldershot goal had to be at his very best to prevent an own goal on the hour, diving high to his left to claw the ball away to keep out a header from Stanley.
Vale made a double substitution in the 67th minute. Ben Williamson came on for Lee Hughes and Chris Birchall was replaced by Calvin Andrew.
There was a rare chance for the visitors two minutes later when Michael Rankine darted in unmarked to meet and angled cross from Tonkin, but the substitute headed wide of the target.
Then in the 73rd minute, with the Vale defence at sixes and sevens, Paul McCallum wasted a golden opportunity to level the scores, lifting his shot high over the crossbar from six yards.
GOAL:A minute later the visitors were level, however, and it was the same player, PAUL McCALLUM who slammed the ball into the Vale net from almost the same spot.
There was an injury scare for Vale when John McCombe went down requiring treatment. He was replaced by Joe Davis in the 82nd minute.
Play switched from one end to the other as both sides went looking for the win that would mean so much to each of them for contrasting reasons.
In the end the game finished all square with a point being of more use to the Valiants than the visitors, who had put up a terrific performance.