Anton Forrester scored all four goals as Port Vale Reserves cruised to victory over Bradford City at Vale Park on Tuesday afternoon. Rob Lainton, Joe Davis and Marcus Harness also featured as Mick Ede's men cemented their place at the top of The Central League.
Vale started the brighter of the two teams as they knocked the ball around neatly during the opening exchanges, but they were unable to test Alfie Drake in the away goal. That was until the eighth minute, however, as Forrester worked a bit of space before powering a strike into the top corner from 20 yards.
Three minutes later, the lead was almost doubled as Forrester and Dan Turner linked up well, but the latter steered a header just wide of the far post. That missed opportunity didn't matter though, as Forrester scored his second of the afternoon almost immediately after, drilling a low finish beyond Drake via a deflection.
Ede's side continued to dominate proceedings and they deservedly widened the margin to three on 18 minutes, with Forrester completing his hat-trick. Marcus Harness sent in a cross from the right flank and Forrester peeled away from his marker to plant a header into the corner from close range.
Harness almost turned from provider to finisher ten minutes later, but he was denied by a superb reaction save from Drake as he tipped the effort onto the crossbar. Turner then called the goalkeeper into action again soon afterwards, but he responded once more to smother the ball down to his left.
Remarkably, Forrester stepped up to score his fourth of the game seven minutes before half-time as he nutmegged a defender before curling a finish into the far corner. The Valiants continued to look a real threat going forward, but the away defence managed to ensure the deficit did not get any greater going into the break.
Following the restart, both teams enjoyed prolonged spells of possession, but neither of them could create a meaningful chance in front of goal. Mike Calveley and Ryan Campbell-Gordon were able to deliver several crosses after marauding forward, but they were dealt with by Bradford's back line.
In complete contrast to the first 45 minutes, the second half never really got going and it took until the 80th minute for the first shot to be registered. Campbell-Morgan turned smartly before finding Harry Middleton on the edge of the area, but the midfielder was denied by a diving save. Vale 'keeper, Mawgan Blight, was then tested two minutes later as he thwarted Reece Pownall from close range to preserve the clean sheet.
Port Vale: Lainton (Blight 45), Calveley, Davis (C) (Ryder 60), Howe, Campbell-Gordon, Harness, Middleton, Reeves, Turner, Forrester (Green-Birch), Benns (Grimshaw 72).
Unused Substitutes: Thomas.
Bradford City: Drake, Farrar, Malumbo, Gunner, Kirkpatrick (Hefele 72), Cutts, James, Peters (Tingle 57), Web-Foster (Maltby 57), Pownall, Birchill.
Unused Substitutes: None.