Port Vale v Maidenhead United
Emirates FA Cup First Round
At Vale Park
Sunday 8th November 2015
Attendance: 3,977 including 379 visiting supporters
Vale looked to have eased themselves into the second round of the FA Cup with a slender win against Maidenhead United, only to concede an equaliser four minutes into stoppage time.
Byron Moore’s 31st minute strike looked to be enough to see off their non-league opponents, but Alan Devonshire’s side had other ideas and Vale now have to take on Maidenhead in a replay.
In fairness to the visitors, they pressed whenever they could and during the final few minutes of stoppage time had Vale penned deep inside their own half and deserved to get something for their efforts when substitute James Mulley squared the tie.
Despite the return of top scorer Uche Ikpeazu from suspension, Vale went with the same starting eleven that looked effective against Shrewsbury Town in their previous fixture, leaving Ikpeazu to start on the bench.
Vale were facing opposition who, on paper, they should be expected to beat, but we all know what can happen in the FA Cup, and Vale have experienced upsets on more than one occasion.
Maidenhead, under the stewardship of former West Ham United and England midfielder Alan Devonshire, came into the game having tasted victory in each of their previous six fixtures.
Devonshire had promised that his side would not be coming to Vale Park to sit back and defend – instead, although he realised it would be a big ask, they were going to come to win the tie.
Vale dominated the early stages of the game without really making any headway, despite the ball rarely coming out of the visitors’ half.
All Vale had to show for their endeavour was a 20 yard shot from Colin Daniel which failed to trouble Maidenhead ‘keeper Carl Pentney, the ball flying over his crossbar.
Anthony Grant took a knock in the 15th minute and immediately went down, requiring treatment. Thankfully, after a short break in play, the Vale midfielder was able to continue.
Vale were inviting their opponents to come at them, making a handful of mistakes on the ball to unnecessarily give away possession and Maidenhead’s confidence could be seen to be growing.
Maidenhead’s Alan Massey picked up a yellow card midway through the first half for his challenge on Ajay Leitch-Smith and Vale went close from the resulting free kick.
The visitors made a bit of a hash O’Connor’s set piece was only cleared as far as Louis Dodds, but his first time shot from 15 yards was punched away by Puntney.
Puntney came to the rescue again just three minutes later when a low 25 yard drive from Colin Daniel was palmed around the foot of the left upright by the ‘keeper.
GOAL:There was little Puntney could do when Vale finally got their noses in front in the 31st minute. Dodds slid a perfectly weighted through ball for BYRON MOORE to run on to and the winger finished confidently from 10 yards
The referee added the name of Richard Duffy to his notebook for a tackle on Pritchard in the 43rd minute – perhaps a little harshly after the Vale defender came away with the ball.
From the resulting free kick the visitors went close to an equaliser when Ryan Upward’s header struck Jak Alnwick’s left hand upright and the ball fell to the feet of Ben Wright, who hammered his close range shot wide of the target.
It was a let off for the Valiants and served as a warning there was no room for any complacency by Rob Page’s side – it would have been interesting to listen in to his half time team talk.
Five minutes into the second half Vale made a double substitution. On came Sam Foley for Colin Daniel, and Uche Ikpeazu for Ajay Leitch-Smith.
The two of them combined just three minutes later to come close to doubling Vale’s lead. Ikpeazu forced and error before pulling the ball back from the byeline and Foley’s shot clipped the top of the crossbar.
Vale were now pressing a high line and a second Vale goal looked like it might arrive at any moment and Pentney was being called into action more often than in the first forty five minutes.
Vale were unable to sustain the pressure, however, they looked well in control of the game and still it looked like it was only a matter of time before they came good again in front of goal.
All due credit to the visitors, who kept that belief they could get something from the game and Vale were never certain of retaining their lead as Maidenhead threatened in numbers whenever the opportunity arose.
The late Vale substitution when the home side sent on defender Remie Streete for Anthony Grant showed the respect Vale had for the visitors.
GOAL:But all of Vale’s hard work was undone in the fourth of four minutes added time when JAMES MULLEY smashed home an equaliser after several minutes of sustained pressure form the visitors.
PORT VALE: Jak Alnwick, Ben Purkiss, Carl Dickinson, Ryan McGivern, Richard Duffy, Michael O’Connor, Louis Dodds, Colin Daniel, Byron Moore, Ajay Leitch-Smith, Anthony Grant. SUBS: Chris Neal, Remie Streete, Chris Birchall, Uche Ikpeazu, Sam Foley, JJ Hooper, Adam Yates
MAIDENHEAD UNITED: Carl Pentney, Ryan Peters, Rene Steer, Ryan Upward, Alan Massey, Dean Inman, Dave Tarpey, Kieron Forbes, Jake Reid, Ben Wright, Harry Pritchard. SUBS: Mark Nisbet, Gavin James, Sam Barratt, Andy Jenkinson, Josh Higgins, James Mulley, Kyran Wiltshire