Ben Whitfield’s first-half strike proves the difference as Port Vale Reserves beat Doncaster Reserves 1-0 to maintain their strong position in the Central League.
A number of first-team players made an appearance at a brisk Vale Park, with the likes of Leon Legge, Tom Conlon, Cristian Montano and Whitfield all named in the starting line-up.
Despite Vale seeing the majority of the ball during the opening encounters, it was the visitors who had the first attempt on goal. Myron Gibbons took aim from the edge of the box and forced Sam Hornby into a smart save with just a few minutes on the clock.
Vale grew into the game and with just over a quarter of an hour played, the hosts had their first effort at goal. David Worrall’s cross from the right-hand side was met by Dan Turner in the middle, however the young forward couldn’t steer his header on target. Minutes later, Ben Whitfield had a close-range effort saved by Declan Ogley.
Whitfield made no mistake with his next effort however, as he broke the deadlock to put the Valiants into the lead. Conlon lofted a neat through-ball into the path of Whitfield who had only the ‘keeper to beat. Having taken a touch, Whitfield smashed across goal and into the back of the net.
For just the second time in the game, Hornby was called into action and boy was he needed. Jack Watson took hold on the edge of the box before jinking past two defenders to find himself one-on-one with the Vale stopper. His curled effort looked in all the way but for a fantastic fingertip save from Hornby.
Whitfield should’ve added a second moments later, though the Rovers defenders put their body on the line to deny the Vale forward.
Vale headed down the tunnel one goal to the good, though the second-half proved a cagey affair. Conlon had a long-range effort comfortably saved after Montano had a mazy run squandered.
It wasn’t an easy ride as the half continued as the visitors were awarded a penalty with 25 minutes to play - Legge deemed to have brought down the Donny forward inside the area. Gibbons stepped up to take the spot kick, though couldn’t convert as Hornby dived to his right to deny the Rovers from levelling the score-line.
Hornby was on hand once again with a brilliant double save to maintain Vale’s lead with just over 15 minutes to go and that proved the last action of the affair, with Vale claiming all three points.
Port Vale: Hornby, Pugh, Howkins, Legge, Whelan (Green-Birch, 45), Edser, Turner, Conlon (Benns, 85), Montano, Worrall, Whitfield (Elliott, 53)
Unused Subs: Blight, Jackson
Doncaster Rovers: Ogley, McLean, Horton, Prior, Wright, Blaney, Greaves (Hasani, 68), Barnett, Boocock, Gibbons, Watson (McGowan, 59)
Unused Subs: Foulkes, Walker, Hasani