Port Vale played out a goalless draw at home to Newport County in Sky Bet League Two on Saturday afternoon, with Michael Tonge going the closest to netting a winner as he struck the post in the first half. Shawn McCoulsky also had an opportunity to seal three points for the Exiles late on, but he failed to capitalise and the spoils were shared.
In terms of action, the opening exchanges provided very little as both teams jostled for possession, but it was Vale who created the first opening on seven minutes. David Worrall did well to skip down the left flank before sending a cross in towards Tom Pope, but his glancing header fizzed wide of the far post.
With 11 minutes played, Newport spurned a golden opportunity after a long throw-in routine fell kindly to Mark O’Brien and he could only send his effort over the bar from six yards. Up the other end almost immediately after, Tonge fired a curling effort against the post with Joe Day at full stretch following an impressive run from Pope.
Vale continued to press for an opener and they began to look the more threatening of the two sides, with Cristian Montano forcing Day into a save as he powered a Tonge cross on target via his head on 16 minutes. During the same move, neat build-up between James Gibbons and Pope saw the latter flick an effort on target, but it was comfortable for the goalkeeper.
Another patient passing move lead to another opportunity after 21 minutes, but after finding space in a central area, Luke Hannant saw a strike ricochet off a defender and wide of the target. Frank Nouble then set his sights on goal for Newport four minutes later, but Danny Pugh did well to deny him with a brave block.
That proved to be the final real chance of the first half, but Neil Aspin opted to bring on Ben Whitfield at half-time to add to Vale’s creativity and he was involved in a swift attack on 52 minutes as Tonge stabbed a Pope cross wide of the target from inside the area. Nouble then wriggled his way into a shooting position three minutes later, but Kyle Howkins managed to clear.
Ryan Boot was then called into action with 56 minutes played to deny the visitors twice in quick succession, firstly parrying a strike from O’Brien away from goal before reacting quickly to get back to his feet and stop the follow-up from Nouble. The ball then bounced around in the Vale area, but Montano was on hand to clear upfield.
It was then the Valiants’ turn to go close on 62 minutes as Whitfield broke into the area, but after being crowded out, the ball became loose and Worrall was able to pick up the pieces. He adjusted his body before sending a low strike towards goal, but Ben White slid in to block and thwart the midfielder. Whitfield then tried his luck from range three minutes later and it flew wide of the post with Day scrambling.
As the tempo of the game started to increase, Vale saw two chances come and go within a matter of seconds during the 75th minute. Whitfield picked out Pope with a deep cross and he could only head into the arms of day, but the midfielder had a shot of his own shortly after and the goalkeeper was not required on that occasion.
With nine minutes remaining, Newport could have secured a win as the ball dropped to McCoulsky inside the area. The substitute had time and space to get his shot away, but with only Boot to beat, he failed to hit the target and Vale were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Worrall was then presented with a clear-cut chance himself in the 89th minute, but his half-volley flew narrowly over the bar. In stoppage time, Pope went down under a challenge inside the area as he tried to get on the end of a Worrall free-kick, but the referee was unmoved and the penalty appeals were waved away.
Port Vale: Boot, Gibbons (Whitfield 45), Smith, Howkins, Davis, Montano, Tonge (Harness 82), Pugh, Worrall, Hannant (Barnett 60), Pope.
Unused Substitutes: Lainton, Howe, Raglan, Forrester.
Newport County: Day, Pipe, White, O’Brien ©, Demetriou, Butler, Tozer, Willmott, Dolan, Amond (McCoulsky 76), Nouble (Hayes 76).
Unused Substitutes: Bittner, Jackson, Reid, Osadebe, Sheehan.
Attendance: 4,013 (288 away).