Port Vale were knocked out of the first round of the Carabao Cup after suffering a 4-0 defeat at home to fellow League 2 side, Lincoln City.
After a disappointing result at the weekend, Neil Aspin was looking to his squad to bounce back strong against a Lincoln side, who are tipped to be near the top end of the League 2 table.
It took just four minutes for the deadlock to be broken. A Lincoln corner was whipped into the Vale box with plenty of pace, and found Scott Wharton at the back post. The defender managed to knock the ball back and Jason Shackell was there to head in from a yard out.
Neil Aspin would’ve been disappointed with the start as he urged his players to focus and regroup from the touchline. The battle between Nathan Smith and Matt Rhead was something that had been brewing from kick off as the Vale defender looked to keep the big target man out of any danger zones.
As the first half drew on Vale looked to respond but were restricted from creating as many chances as they had hoped. Antony Kay found himself with half a chance but his shot was blocked from the six yard box. Whilst at the other end, Scott Brown pulled off a fine save to deny Shay McCartan from doubling the Imps’ lead.
There was a sense of frustration growing in the air at Vale Park as the referee seemed to bring the game to a stop at the faintest of challenges. Many of which, were falling against the Valiants.
Vale’s best chance came just before the half time whistle. Antony Kay sold a dummy to Lincoln midfielder Tom Pett, and his shot from 20 yards dribbled through a number of players and found Miller in the crowd, but the striker couldn’t direct his shot on target.
The second half started identical to the first half, as Lincoln scored within minutes of the restart. Matt Green was deemed to be fouled inside the Vale box, and the striker stepped up to blast the penalty past Scott Brown to double the Imps’ lead.
Vale nearly responded with a goal instantly. Worrall’s cross into the box was knocked back out only as far as Kay, and his thirty-yard rocket thumped the crossbar and was cleared to safety. Ricky Miller also found himself with half a chance, but his shot from outside the box sailed just over the bar.
Both teams struggled to create any real clear chances, that was until the 70th minute where the Lincoln keeper Grant Smith pulled off a magnificent save to prevent Luke Hannant’s curling effort from nestling into the top corner.
With 10 minutes left, former Vale player Michael O’Connor ended Vale’s hopes of making any sort of comeback. The midfielder made a driving run towards the edge of the Vale box, and buried his shot into the top corner to make it 3-0. A fourth was soon added, as John Akinde found himself one on one with Scott Brown after an error at the back and tucked it into the bottom corner.
As the referee blew for full time, it will be a result manager Neil Aspin will be extremely angered by. Vale return to action on Saturday at Vale Park, as they host Crawley Town.
Port Vale: Scott Brown, Connell Rawlinson, Leon Legge, Nathan Smith, Cristian Montano (83’ Cristian Montano), David Worrall (74’ Idris Kanu), Antony Kay, Manny Oyeleke, Luke Hannant, Louis Dodds (63’ Scott Quigley), Ricky Miller,
UNUSED SUBS: Sam Hornby, James Gibbons, Luke Joyce, Michael Tonge,
Lincoln City: Grant Smith, Jason Shackell (73’ Michael O’Connor), Scott Wharton, Tom Pett, Matt Rhead, Matt Green (62’ John Akinde), Ellis Chapman, Harry Toffolo, James Wilson, Shay McCartan (64’ Bruno Andrade), Harry Anderson,
UNUSED SUBS: Lee Frecklington, Joan Luque, Adam Crookes, Michael Antkowiak