Port Vale kicked off their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a win on Tuesday night as they edged past Burton Albion at Vale Park. Ricky Miller came off the bench to score midway through the second half, and that strike proved to be the decisive goal.
It was the Brewers who looked the more threatening of the two sides early on and they almost went a goal ahead on three minutes, but Mitchell Clark was on hand to clear a looping header off the line.
Nigel Cough’s men continued to keep possession well and they looked to thread Devante Cole through on goal with 13 minutes played, only to see Nathan Smith cut out Lukas Akins’ through ball with a perfectly timed sliding challenge.
The away side did manage to test Sam Hornby for the first time three minutes later after some neat build-up. Will Miller received the ball in a central area before cutting inside onto his right foot, but his shot was well dealt with by the ‘keeper.
With 24 minutes on the clock, Marvin Sordell was the next to take aim for Burton following a deep corner, but his powerful effort was well blocked by Danny Pugh. Akins then looked for the head of Cole almost immediately afterwards, but Connell Rawlinson did well to clear.
Up the other end nine minutes later Vale had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be ruled out. Lewis Hardcastle picked out David Worrall with a ball over the top and the winger lobbed his effort over Harry Campbell from 30 yards, but the linesman’s flag was raised.
Vale then created their best opportunity of the first half with six minutes until the break, with Pugh providing the cross from the left. Worrall then peeled off his marker before sending a header across goal, but Campbell dived to his right to make the save.
Neither manager decided to make any changes at the break, but it was Vale who had the first effort on goal in the second half, Louis Dodds finding the gloves of the goalkeeper just 46 seconds after the restart. He then sent a volley just wide three minutes later after connecting with a Worrall free-kick.
Burton were the next to go close as Akins delivered a dangerous corner towards the head of Kyle McFadzean. The experienced defender met the ball with great conviction to direct it towards the far corner, but Hornby denied him with a superb sprawling save.
Some tidy interchange then allowed Vale to carry the ball into the final third with Worrall, and his low cross towards Clark looked a good one, but it was just too strong for the defender and it was turned behind by Damien McCrory at the far post.
Neil Aspin then elected to throw Miller on with 62 minutes played, and the striker did not wait around to stamp his mark on proceedings. Dodds slid him through on goal with a brilliantly weighted ball over the top and he made no mistakes with the finish, putting his side ahead after 65 minutes.
The Brewers searched for a leveller and they thought they had found it through Will Miller, only for Hornby to acrobatically tip his shot over the crossbar. They threw bodies forward during the final stages, but it was to no avail as the Valiants held on to secure all three points.
Port Vale: Sam Hornby, Luke Joyce, David Worrall (Ricky Miller 62’), Connell Rawlinson, Nathan Smith, Danny Pugh, Idris Kanu, Louis Dodds, Theo Vassell, Mitchell Clark, Lewis Hardcastle.
Unused Substitutes: Scott Brown, Antony Kay, Michael Tonge, Brendon Daniels.
Burton Albion: Harry Campbell, Kyle McFadzean, Ben Turner, Scott Fraser (Jake Hesketh 78’), Joe Sbarra (Marcus Harness 68’), Lukas Akins, Ben Fox, Damien McCrory, Marvin Sordell (Jamie Allen 64’), Will Miller, Devante Cole.
Unused Substitutes: Callum Hawkins, Ben Hart, Reece Hutchinson, Elliot Hodge.
Attendance: 601 (67 away).