Stoppage time strikes from Ellis Harrison and Dennis Politic completed a dramatic comeback for the Valiants to ensure they claimed all three points in their first match of the new year at Forest Green Rovers.
Late goals from Mipo Odubeko, Ellis Harrison, and Dennis Politic meant Vale travelled back to Burslem with all three points on New Year’s Day after Kyle McCallister had put FGR ahead early at the Bolt New Lawn.
Rovers raced into the lead just two minutes into the match through McAllister, who fired a low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Substitute Odubeko netted the equaliser for Vale with just five minutes of normal time remaining after Gavin Massey delivered a brilliant cross from the right, which fell invitingly for our number 21 to slot home calmly.
Harrison was given a chance to win the game from the spot in the 98th minute when Tom Pett was hacked down inside the area after some nifty footwork to get past a Rovers defender.
Our number 22 smashed home the resulting penalty, just like he did at Vale Park against the same opponents back in October, sending the away end into raptures.
Four minutes later, Politic made sure of the victory with a magic left-footed strike from distance that McGee could not do anything about.
Darrell Clarke made three changes for our first match of 2023, with Mal Benning, Holden, and Dan Butterworth all coming into the starting 11, whilst Funso Ojo also saw his first piece of action since recovering from a long-term injury.
As the first half went on, Vale grew into the match, and our first real opportunity came in the 20th minute when Ben Garrity latched on to a Benning corner, but his glancing effort just flew wide of the post.
Rovers should have doubled their lead through Ben Stevenson midway through the first period, however, after a one-two with Corey O’Keefe, the midfielder blazed his shot over the bar.
Vale came close to the equaliser in the 35th minute when Pett’s deflected volley from the edge of the box forced Luke McGee to react quickly to stop the ball from rolling into the net.
Benning, who caused many problems for FGR down the left-hand side, forced McGee into a save in the 58th minute after Gavin Massey delivered a delightful cross for him at the back post.
Unfortunately, in the 83rd minute, Lewis Cass was taken off on a stretcher after our defender fell awkwardly from a challenge in the middle of the pitch.
Odubeko came close to completing the turnaround only moments after his equaliser, but his header from inside the area was held onto comfortably by McGee.
Forest Green Rovers | McGee, O’Keefe, McGeouch, Casey, Cargill, Stevenson (90+3 Little), Hendry, McAllister (84’ Bernard), Godwin-Malife, Peart-Harris (64’ Matt), March (90+3 Stevens)
Unused Subs | Thomas, Boyes, Bunker
Port Vale | Stevens, Hall, Smith, Garrity, Benning, Forrester (66’ Cass, 83’ Ojo), Holden (61’ Politic), Massey, Harrison, Pett, Butterworth (70’ Odubeko)
Unused Subs | Stone, Walker, Conlon