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Luke Hannant on Tuesday's win over Shrewsbury Town

9 January 2019

Penalty shootouts are known to provide some nerve-wracking moments, but despite feeling the pressure on Tuesday evening, Luke Hannant relished the responsibility of taking what proved to be the decisive strike against Shrewsbury Town.

After Tom Pope's 99th Vale goal levelled proceedings late on, Hannant did spurn an opportunity to win the game in regular time with just minutes left to play, but the midfielder quickly forgot about that to secure the Valiants' place in the Checkatrade Trophy Quarter-Final draw.

Following the draw away at league leaders Lincoln City on New Year's Day, he is hopeful that he and his teammates can build on the positive start to 2019 when they face Colchester United in League Two this weekend, and Hannant has been impressed by the mentality around the squad.

He said: "In the first half we dominated possession and we played a different formation with a diamond in midfield, so that allowed myself and Manny Oyeleke to get further forward to create more opportunities for Tom Pope and Ben Whitfield.

"It was disappointing to concede a goal, but the boys showed great endeavour to come back into the game. We were always working hard during the second half in order to create that chance, and luckily we had something fall to Tom at the back post.

"There was then some pressure riding on the penalty shootout, but we kept our heads. Scott Brown made two great saves, Popey was then unlucky to see his saved, but I've stepped up and scored.

"I was a bit nervous, but you thrive off those moments. Thankfully my penalty went in and we're into the next round. That's the kind of mentality and performance we now need to take into Saturday's game."

With the draw for the next stages of the competition set to take place live on Sky Sports at 7pm on Thursday evening, Hannant is looking forward to see who Vale's next opponents are, but he is keen to ensure that the run can continue, regardless of who they face.

The 25-year-old admits that the results and performances shown since the turn of the year have lifted spirits around Vale Park, and he is adamant that the Checkatrade Trophy success is acting as a welcome boost too, with the prospect of a Wembley Final now just two games away.

"Wins are massive in terms of building confidence, and it's the displays like tonight and the one at Lincoln that we need to take forward so we can put a run of results together," he said.

"There was a bit of pressure running up to the Lincoln game where we were on a poor run and we weren't scoring goals, but we've shown great mentality throughout the team recently and tonight was the kind of performance we need to replicate.

"In regards to the Checkatrade Trophy, it's a great opportunity to get to Wembley. We know we can't think too far ahead and Saturday's game is more important at the moment, but it's nice to know we're in the hat for the draw.

"There are a lot of good teams left in it, but if we can keep getting a run of performances like the one tonight, you never know what could happen and a Wembley trip could become a reality."

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