Port Vale staged a remarkable comeback to earn a point away to Morecambe on Saturday afternoon, with Scott Brown proving the hero late on as he saved a penalty.
Goals from A-Jay Leitch Smith and Jason Oswell had given Neil Aspin’s men a mountain to climb, but Antony Kay and Tom Pope both found the net to salvage a draw.
It was Vale who created the first chance of the affair in difficult conditions as a swift counter attack opened up some space for a shot on three minutes. Manny Oyeleke found Luke Hannant on the edge of the area, but he could only send his effort just over from 20 yards.
As the barrage of rain continued to fall in Lancashire, the travelling supporters remained in high spirits as the Valiants looked to find a breakthrough. Theo Vassell did well to deliver a dangerous cross with 14 minutes played, but Steve Old was able to get his head to the ball ahead of Pope.
Morecambe did begin to control possession with a quarter of an hour on the clock and the hosts almost took the lead four minutes later. Jordan Cranston’s cross caused the initial danger and Alex Kenyon profited to strike an effort on target, but it was strongly blocked by Nathan Smith.
With 25 minutes played, Brown was called into the action and he responded smartly to tip a Liam Mandeville wide free-kick over the bar. It took the home side just two more minutes to open the scoring, however, as Leitch-Smith raced onto a Cranston through ball before firing a finish into the bottom corner from inside the area.
That goal seemed to whet the appetite of the Morecambe front line and they went searching for another soon afterwards, and it was Leitch-Smith who went close on 29 minutes. He skipped beyond three Vale players before unleashing a shot from 25 yards, but it skewed just wide of the far post.
Brown then came to Vale’s rescue 10 minutes before half-time, acrobatically clawing a long-range Cranston free-kick away from the top corner. He was unable to stop the home side doubling their advantage on 39 minutes though, with Jason Oswell heading home from close range.
Following the restart, Vale looked to find a route back into the game and James Gibbons elected to shoot after cutting inside past Kevin Ellison, only to watch the ball sail over Mark Halstead’s bar with 49 minutes played.
Mandeville then curled one from a similar distance up the other end nine minutes later, but Brown was alert to beat it away from danger. The Valiants soon began to have most of the possession, but despite throwing an extra striker onto the field in the form of Scott Quigley, they found it difficult to turn that into chances.
As the game wore on, Morecambe dropped deeper as they looked to soak up the Vale pressure, but they did concede six minutes from time as Kay bundled the ball past Halstead from close range to give the Valiants a lifeline.
Remarkably, Pope then levelled proceedings before Brown saved a late penalty from Leitch-Smith to secure a point to the delight of the travelling fans. The final few minutes proved to be very open, but neither side could find a winner as Andy Haines blew the full-time whistle.
Morecambe: Mark Halstead, Luke Conlan, Alex Kenyon ©, Steve Old, Kevin Ellison (Garry Thompson 86), Jason Oswell (Vadaine Oliver 86) , Josef Yarney, Sam Lavelle, Liam Mandeville, Jordan Cranston (Rhys Oates 79), A-Jay Leitch-Smith.
Unused Substitutes: Barry Roche, Carlos Mendes-Gomes, Joe Piggott, Ben Hedley.
Port Vale: Scott Brown, James Gibbons, Cristian Montano, Antony Kay, Manny Oyeleke (Scott Quigley 64), Tom Pope ©, Luke Hannant, Connell Rawlinson, Nathan Smith, Theo Vassell, Tom Conlon.
Unused Substitutes: Sam Hornby, Luke Joyce, Danny Pugh, Louis Dodds, Ben Whitfield, Lewis Hardcastle.
Attendance: 1,769 (410 away).