Port Vale secured their spot in the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy following a thrilling win over neighbours, Crewe Alexandra. The win allowed Vale to win the group without losing a game as they were victorious over their League Two rivals.
Goals from Chris Regis, Anton Forrester Billy Reeves, Cristian Montano secured the win for Neil Aspin’s men.
Prior to the game, Neil Aspin made seven changes to his squad who defeated Oxford United in the FA Cup. Jack Stobbs, Michael Tonge and Adam Yates all made the starting eleven as did new signing, Chris Regis.
It didn’t take the ‘new boy’ long to get things started as Regis converted his first goal in a Port Vale shirt. James Gibbons made an excellent run down the right, following on from Jack Stobbs’ sublime ball. The right-back crossed it low, as was Regis to slot home on four minutes.
The “Valiants” soon doubled their lead through a screamer of a strike, as Anton Forrester blasted into the top right-hand corner. At angle, the 23-year old turned and picked out the corner from a ridiculous angle on the seventh minute.
Crewe needed to respond, and nearly did so on the 15th minute as Chris Porter took advantage of James Gibbons’ mistake and attempted to fire the ball across Ryan Boot’s goal. Boot got down low and did well to parry away.
Seconds later, Montano nearly added a third for Aspin’s men as he took advantage of Ben Garratt’s punch and tried side-footed effort into the corner. His weaker foot took advantage, as the shot goes narrowly wide.
Just past the half an hour mark, Lewis Reilly grabbed a goal back for The Railwaymen as George Cooper slotted in the youngster. Reilly picked up the ball from close range and fired past Boot.
Both teams had equal chances, with Vale seeing much more of the ball as the countdown to half-time started.
Vale then made their first substitute of the afternoon as Mike Calveley came off for Billy Reeves.
The youngster was straight in on the action as he prodded the ball through to Stobbs who fired straight at the keeper on 47 minutes.
Vale were pressing excellently – despite the visitor’s having much more of the ball. Forrester also continued to lead the line well, ahead of his return from injury.
Regis then came off after heavily impressing on his debut, in exchange for Dan Turner as Vale converted to 4-4-2.
Turner wanted in on the action and made a darting run down the left, crossing low towards the path of Forrester – Vale could have easily seen a third. However, his shot went flying over from six-yards with 25 minutes to play.
Soon after, Reeves scored his first professional goal for the “Valiants” converting Adam Yates’ excellent cross. The youngster managed the get a touch on the in-swinging effort which just sailed past Garratt and into the corner on 66 minutes.
It was beginning to turn into an interesting encounter as Crewe snatched one back. It was Reilly who converted infront of the 75 travelling supporters. Charlie Kirk had the original shot on the edge of the area as the ball fell to Reilly, only to blast home past Boot.
With ten minutes to play The Alex were pressing. Aspin’s brave defence remained strong and committed as the clock counted down.
On the 90th minute, the game was soon put to bed as Montano got his well-deserved goal. He raced through after picking the ball up on the halfway line and poked the ball past Garratt.
The win allows Port Vale to finish as group winners in the Checkatrade Trophy and a small step closer to Wembley Stadium. Vale will now return to the league on Friday with an away trip to Newport County.
Port Vale Team: Ryan Boot, Adam Yates, Gavin Gunning, Nathan Smith, James Gibbons, Michael Tonge, Michael Calveley (Billy Reeves 45), Christopher Regis (Dan Turner 62) Jack Stobbs, Cristian Montano, Anton Forrester (Anthony de Freitas 90).
Unused Subs: Sam Hornby, Charlie Walford.
Crewe Alexandrea Team: Ben Garratt, Zoumana Bakayogo, Brad Walker, Michael Raynes, Chris Porter, George Cooper (Callum Ainley 61), Eddie Nolan, Tom Lowery, Charlie Kirk, Lewis Reilly, Sam Stubbs.
Unused Subs: Dave Richards, Perry Ng, Chris Dagnall, Jordan Bowery, Harry Pickering, Josh Lundstram.
Attendance: 1322 (75 away supporters)