Scott Brown was the hero this evening as Port Vale progressed to the third round of the Leasing.com Trophy following a 4-2 win on penalties over Mansfield Town.
The Vale came into this fixture high on confidence and it showed during the opening exchanges. The first chance fell to Ryan Lloyd after Scott Burgess whipped in a lovely cross from the right, but the Vale midfielder couldn’t quite get over the ball and diverted his effort over.
The next Vale chance came just two minutes later, and this time it was David Worrall. The midfielder latched on to a loose ball on the right and struck it first time, but Bobby Olejnik got down well to save.
The Vale pressure began to ease up shortly after the tenth minute, but Askey’s men continued to dominate possession and the backline remained untroubled.
The Stags created their first real chance after 15 minutes when Nathan Smith was left outnumbered at the back, but the visitors failed to capitalise as CJ Hamilton’s attempted ball through to Otis Khan was expertly intercepted by the Vale centre-half.
Almost instantaneously the Valiants sprung an attack of their own and it was Mark Cullen’s turn to go close. Rhys Browne created some room for himself down the left and pulled it back to Cullen who couldn’t connect properly and sent his first-time effort wide.
Browne continued to cause problems down the left and did well to earn the first corner of the match, but Worrall’s delivery was dealt with at the near post.
It was the Vale number 17 once again trying to carve an opening for the Valiants and he showcased excellent footwork to turn his man, but his low effort wasn’t enough to trouble Olejnik in the Mansfield goal.
Chances became scarce throughout the next ten minutes, but Lloyd had another opportunity similar to his first, the ball was fired in from the right but once again his effort looped over the bar.
Just a few moments later it was the lively Cullen who stung the palms of Olejnik. Scott Burgess did well to turn his man and send Worrall through on the right, and he pulled it back to Cullen who had enough time to take a touch and shoot but couldn’t direct it past the Mansfield shot-stopper.
It was a string of chances for the Vale late on in the first half, and it was Lloyd again who came close. Worrall’s corner was flicked on by substitute Leon Legge and Lloyd was alone at the back post and tried to direct his header back across a scrambling Olejnik but his effort sailed over.
Dominant is the only word to describe the Vale during the final minutes of the first 45 as they continued to threaten Mansfield. Some excellent build-up play on the left found its way to Burgess outside the area, and he fired a low shot but the Mansfield keeper got down to tip past the post for a Vale corner which was cleared by the Stags.
Despite a commanding performance from the Valiants in the first-half, nothing could separate the two sides as it remained goalless at the break.
The second-half began in contrasting fashion to the first, as the visitors began on the front-foot, Andy Cook trying his luck from outside the area but it was easily dealt with by Scott Brown.
The Vale were left to rue missed chances as the away side took the lead after 50 minutes. A rare defensive mishap from the Valiants saw Cook intercept a pass and lay it across to CJ Hamilton, who then had plenty of time inside the box to finish into an empty net.
It was a quick reaction from Askey’s men however, and Burgess did well to win a free-kick just outside of the Mansfield box but Worrall could only fire over.
Browne was arguably Vale’s brightest spark in the first-half and showed no signs of slowing down in the second. He picked the ball up on the left and skipped through a handful of Mansfield defenders and drilled a low shot towards Olejnik who did well to keep it out.
With 30 minutes to go, Askey’s men continued to work their way back into this one, and a neat lofted pass from Worrall found Browne on the left whose cross was deflected out for a corner.
Moments later the Vale pressure paid dividends and it was Browne who restored parity, and nobody deserved it more. Mansfield failed to clear their lines from the corner and the ball fell to Browne who dispatched the ball into the bottom right-hand corner for his first Vale goal.
The tension began to slowly creep into this one with neither side creating any real chances.
On 80 minutes it was substitute Jake Taylor who put the Vale ahead as he has done so often this season. Worrall deserves a huge amount of credit in the build-up after he beat his man despite being pulled to ground and the midfielder proceeded to float a ball to the back post and there was Jake Taylor to fire past a helpless Olejnik.
Almost straight away it was Taylor who had a golden opportunity to kill the game off. Burgess went on a surging run down the left and pulled it back to Taylor who had plenty of time to shoot but could only fire wide.
Once again, Askey's side were left to rue missed chances as Mansfield equalised through Omari Sterling-James in stoppage time.
That was all there was time for as the two sides were forced into penalties following a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes.
Brown was the hero in the shootout after he excellently saved Hamilton's and Mal Benning's penalties, who took first and third respectively. Luke Joyce, Taylor, Burgess and Will Atkinson all scored their spot-kicks meaning the Vale progress to the third round of yet another competition with a 4-2 win on penalties.
Port Vale: Brown, Joyce, Worrall, Atkinson, Cullen (86' Archer), Smith, Browne, Evans, Burgess, Lloyd (74' Taylor) Brisley (36’ Legge)
Unused Subs: Maddison, Amoo, Bennett, Campbell-Gordon, Archer,
Mansfield Town: Olejnik, Benning, Bishop, Macdonald (86' Knowles), Khan (74' Mellis), Shaughnessy, Sweeney, Cooke, Clarke, Hamilton, Smith (86' Sterling-James)
Unused Subs: Logan, Maynard, Tomlinson, Afolayan,