Tom Pope’s last-minute header earns Port Vale a point against Notts County, though The Valiants will be left frustrated having dominated the majority of the game at Vale Park.
Luke Hannant gave Neil Aspin’s side a deserved lead in the opening 20 minutes, after directing home a Ben Whitfield cross, however Notts County replied just eight minutes later, scoring through Kane Hemmings.
With just three minutes of regular time to play, County took the lead through Elliot ward, however Pope was on-hand to slam a Luke Joyce cross home, earning The Valiants a point at Vale Park.
Port Vale headed into the tie four games unbeaten in all competitions, as Notts County looked to improve on their poor form in the league so far this season.
Aspin made one change to the side that beat Bury last weekend, as Whitifield came into replace Ricky Miller in the starting line-up.
Having impressed last week, Vale picked up where they left off on Saturday as they piled the pressure on The Mapies from the get-go. Theo Vassell had the first sight of goal as he got on the end of a deep Tom Conlon corner, though couldn’t steer his header past the County stopper, before Whitfield then tried his luck, however came to the same outcome as Fitzsimons palmed away his effort.
From that moment on it was all Vale, however this time, Aspin’s side were rewarded for their early pressure. Some neat play to keep hold of the ball in the middle of the park found Whitfield wide on the left-hand flank. The nippy winger attacked the County full-back before standing up a cross into the middle of the box for Hannant to direct into the bottom left corner, giving The Valiants the lead on 14 minutes – his first goal with his head for the club.
Despite all of The Valiants good play in the opening 20 minutes, Notts County levelled proceeding with 22 minutes on the clock. An industrious run from Enzio Boldewijn down the right-hand side led to the wide-man having a shot at goal directed at the far post, as Kane Hemmings was on hand to tap home from two yards out. Hemmings’ goal was the first time Vale have conceded for 382 minutes.
Vale responded well to the County equaliser though just lacked that cutting edge in front of goal, as they passed up a number of chances to get back on top in the tie. Most notably, Whitfield set his sights from the edge of the box however struggled to keep the volley down as it sailed high of The Magpies goal. Whitfield’s chance brought an end to an entertaining first-half.
In similar fashion to the first-half, Vale are quickest out of the blocks and Pope almost had Vale in the lead within two minutes of the restart. Mitchell Clark whipped in a dangerous cross from the right side, however the skipper can only slam his header wide of The Magpies goal.
Neil Aspin will be left scratching his head as to how Vale failed to restore their lead in the 65th minute. It was an absolute onslaught from The Valiants as Connell Rawlinson directed a looping header goalward – his attempt cleared off the line. Whitfield proved a threat once again and was next to go close as he arrowed a 25-yard volley goalward. Fitzsimons in the County net did well to dive and tip the ball away to safety.
Just a few minutes later it was Theo Vassell who almost put The Valiants back into the lead. Vale through absolutely everything at Kewell’s defensive line as Clark hung up a delightful ball to the back post which was met by an on-rushing Vassell, however the defender’s header just scraped wide of the right-hand post.
Aspin showed his intent as he brought on Miller and Louis Dodds all within the space of six minutes, and it was the former who almost gave Vale a deserved lead. Miller was played through one-on-one with Fitzsimons though scuffed his eventual effort as it drifted wide of the County left-hand post.
With just three minutes of regular time to play, Aspin’s side were made to pay for all their missed chances, as Elliot Ward gave The Magpies the lead. The centre-back was on-hand to direct a deep cross home, scuffing the ball past Scott Brown in the Vale net.
However, Vale showed their fighting spirit that they showcased for the entire 90 minutes to equalise with just one minute to play of regular time. The Valiants immediately head up the other end following Ward’s goal, and Luke Joyce hangs up a perfect cross to the back-post, where who else but Tom Pope was there to direct the ball beyond the County stopper.
Vale continued to come forward following the equaliser, though couldn’t find that lethal touch needed to win the game. Aspin’s men now look ahead to Sunderland in the FA Cup.
Port Vale: Brown, Joyce, Legge, Pope, Hannant, Rawlinson, Smith, Vassell, Conlon (Miller 73), Clark, Whitfield (Dodds, 79)
Unused Subs: Gibbons, Kay, Hornby, Kanu, Hardcastle
Notts County: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Hewitt, Alessandra (Brisley, 83), Dennis (Etete, 73), Boldewijn, Hemmings, Ward, Milsom, Evina, Turley
Unused Subs: Duffy, Thomas, Pindroch, Davies, Dunn