Striker back amongst the goals
Vale striker Tom Pope is happy to be back amongst the goals after his brace saw the Valiants come from behind to beat SkyBet League 2 side Bury in the first-round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Pope scored a late consolation goal against Wolves on Saturday and followed that up by bagging a double against Bury tonight.
His first came with a back-post header on 80 minutes after Chris Sedgwick gave the visitors the lead 10 minutes earlier.
Pope sealed Vale’s passage through to the next round on 90 minutes after coolly finishing a slick Vale move. The Vale number 11 held his nerve to chip the ball over the outrushing Brian Jensen from 12 yards.
He told Valiant Player afterwards: “I always knew that they would come, it has been a tough few weeks for me.
“I’ve been struggling with injuries, I am not making excuses but perhaps that’s it has been.
“I feel like I am getting a bit fitter and a bit sharper over the last couple of games.
“I am getting better by the day and hopefully come Saturday I will be good to go.”
Pope reckons the service of ball he received on the night goes a long way to explaining why he found himself with two goals at the end of the game.
“I have always had the belief that I can score goals, we’ve got some great players here who when they get the delivery right I feel I can score goals.
“We certainly created one or two chances tonight and luckily I’ve managed to put a couple away,” he explained.
Vale had to come from behind in a tight affair but Pope admits he was always expecting a tough match from Bury.
“It was always going to be a tough test because they got relegated last year and we got promoted.”
Goalkeeper Chris Neal produced a series of fine saves to keep Vale in the cup and Pope has hailed the goalkeepers form over the past two seasons.
“We’ve had to work hard for 90 minutes, they’ve had some very good chances and Neal been superb as he has been all the time he has been at Vale.
“He is going to be massive (this season).
“I think we could do better defensively as a team.
“We are struggling to keep clean-sheets even when Neal is making four or five quality saves like he has done tonight.”