Vale fell to defeat away to Luton Town on Tuesday night as a Ben Whitfield own goal and a strike from Jack Stacey handed the Hatters all three points. The Valiants did go close on a couple of occasions in the second half, but it proved to be a frustrating evening for Michael Brown’s men.
The hosts kept possession well in the early stages as they looked for an early opener, but Vale’s defence remained resolute to ensure Sam Hornby wasn’t called into action. With 13 minutes on the clock, Luton did fashion their first chance of the game as Andrew Shinnie headed an effort wide of the post from close range.
Just five minutes later Shinnie tried his luck again, but his strike from 25 yards was smothered well by Hornby in the Vale goal. Up the other end, some smart play from Gavin Gunning allowed him to flash a dangerous delivery across the face of goal, but it narrowly evaded the head of Tyrone Barnett and Luton managed to clear.
With 36 minutes played, the Valiants fell behind in unfortunate circumstances. Luke Berry’s initial effort from range was heading off target, but a wicked deflection meant the ball wrong-footed the ‘keeper and it flashed into the net. The away side did almost respond with an equaliser just before half-time, but an Anthony de Freitas free-kick was well saved by Marek Stech.
Following the restart, Vale started brightly and de Freitas went down under a challenge inside the area, only for the referee to wave away his protests. Then, in the 50th minute, Luton broke away to double their advantage after an interception from Alan McCormack. Jack Stacey profited to carry the ball down the right flank before flashing a strike into the roof of the net.
Nathan Smith did have a chance to grab a goal back for Vale just after the hour mark, but he couldn’t direct his header on target after meeting a Joe Davis ball forward. The home side then spurned an opportunity themselves on 67 minutes, before David Worrall saw a deflected effort fizz inches wide of the Luton post.
As the Valiants searched for a route back into the game, de Freitas sent a powerful header towards goal, only to be denied by a smart Stech save. The goalkeeper was then forced to react once more in the 72nd minute as he got down well to divert a low Worrall effort round the post.
The final stages of the affair saw neither team create a clear-cut opening, but Vale did force the hosts to defend a number of crosses. Berry did fire a distant effort just over the bar with two minutes left on the clock but that proved to be the final opening.
Luton Town: Stech, Stacey, Rea, Sheehan ©, Potts, McCormack, Mpanzu, Berry, Shinnie (Cornick 84), Collins (E. Lee 90), Hylton.
Unused Substitutes: Justin, Mullins, O. Lee, Gambin, Shea.
Port Vale: Hornby, Gunning, Smith ©, Anderson, Davis (Pyke 84), de Freitas, Worrall, Middleton (Stobbs 73), Whitfield, Barnett (Turner 62), Pope.
Unused Substitutes: Boot, Kay, Wilson, Denton.
Attendance: 7.046 (136 away)