Port Vale beat Stoke City Under-21s 4-0 last night at Vale Park, and Tom Pope believes the tie was a huge 'learning curve' for the more inexperienced players in the Vale squad.
Tensions were high heading into the game, as Vale faced their local rivals in any format for the first time in just over 16 years. However, Pope seemed to settle the nerves finding the net within six minutes played in the first-half. Cristian Montano stood up a cross to the far post, and the skipper climbed highest to direct a header into the back of the net.
Creator turned goal-scorer as Montano was next to find the net when he bundled in a Haugaard parry, before the Colombian aded his second of the evening just two minutes later, finishing off a sweeping Port Vale move to put his side out of sight before the half-time whistle.
Luke Hannant put the nail in the Stoke City coffin with 67 minutes played, as he slammed home from just inside the box to ensure The Valiants progression to the rounf of 16 of the cup competition. Following the tie, Pope claimed the tie was a 'learning curve' for the likes of Hannant, and other inexperienced players in the side.
He said: "It's massive. Luke Hannant said to before the game, he's never played in front of a big crowd because he's come through non-league.
"Ricky Miller's come through non-league. We came out for the warm-up and they were buzzing for it and that's what you want.
"It's a learning curve for some of our lads, but we have players like myself and Kaysy on the pitch to help them and they didnt.
"That's what showed in the end when you've got lads organising and talking. You can be professional and see the job through, and that's what we did in the end."
Pope was delighted to see his side get back to goal-scoring ways in their past two games, having netted seven times over the two fixtures.
The Port Vale attacking line came under fire following the home defeat to Swindon Town, however the boys have bounced back in tremendous fashion, finding the net three times against Yeovil Town and four times last night against a young Stoke City squad.
The skipper claimed that it's great to see his side re-establish their goal-scoring form, describing their performance last night as clinical.
He said: "I thought we were clinical tonight, I dont think we missed many chances. Certainly the first three goals we scored with our first three chances.
"So that's good, some games like Notts County we created 15 and only scored two goals, but we created a lot of good chances that game.
"For the last couple of games we've really been clinical and I think that's a massive positive for us because certainly the fans have thought we haven't created many chances, which we havent. We know we've had to create more and the last couple of games, we've done that."