Port Vale’s Checkatrade Trophy run comes to an end as Bristol Rovers hit three to progress to the semi-finals of the cup competition.
Goals from Ollie Clarke, Tom Nichols and Alex Rodman condemned The Valiants to a 3-0 loss the Memorial Stadium, as Tom Conlon picked up a red card along the way.
Neil Aspin named two changes to the side that overcame Crawley Town last weekend, as Theo Vassell and Conlon came in to replace the ineligible James Gibbons and Adam Crookes.
Tom Pope remained side-lined through injury, as Ricky Miller retained his place in the team following the win over Crawley.
The first 15 minutes of the affair were relatively quiet as both sides attempted to figure the other out, however with the first effort of the game, the hosts took the lead.
Ollie Clarke came bounding through the middle of the park with 16 minutes on the clock, before he dispatched into the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the box to give the Pirates an early advantage.
Just two minutes later, things almost went from bad to worse for Vale as Gavin Reilly somehow failed to add a second for the hosts. Tom Nichols reached the by-line before he neatly cut-back to Reilly, and with the goal gaping, the winger fired wide to spare Vale’s blushes.
It remained an up-hill struggle as the half pressed on and with 42 minutes played, Nichols was in the heart of the action again to smash against the post from inside the area – Vale fortunate to go in at the break just one goal down.
Neil Aspin was first to show his hand as Danny Elliott came on to replace Theo Vassell at the break, and the new-boy was lively following his introduction.
A neat Miller dummy released Elliot through the middle of the pitch, however Jack Bonham in the Bristol net was quick off his mark to collect and relieve the danger for the hosts.
Vale’s job became that much harder with 58 minutes played, as Tom Conlon picked up two yellow cards in the space of four minutes to see red.
The hosts immediately piled on the pressure following the dismissal and were awarded a penalty just two minutes later, as Clarke went down softly under an Antony Kay challenge.
Nichols stepped up to slot into the bottom right-hand corner, sending Brown the opposite way and doubling the Pirates’ lead.
Alex Rodman added a third in the 68th minute to well and truly put the game beyond the 10-man Valiants, as he snuck in at the far post to hammer home from a deep cross.
With a mountain to climb, Bristol kept Vale pinned back for the final twenty minutes of the game, as they took full advantage of the one-man deficit between the two sides.
With just a couple of minutes to play, Vale had a rare sight of goal as Nathan smith got on the end of a David Worrall cross, however the centre-half couldn’t quite steer his header on target.
Liam Sercombe struck the post in the final minute of the game to almost put the cherry on top of a dominant performance, before Matthew Donohue blew for full-time as Vale’s impressive cup run comes to an end at the hands of Bristol Rovers.
Vale will now look forward to welcoming Carlisle United to Vale Park, this Saturday.
Bristol Rovers: Bonham, Holmes-Dennis, Lockyer, Craig, Clarke, (Upson, 71), Nichols, Lines, Reilly (Jakubiak, 80), Partington, Bennett, Rodman (Sercombe, 70)
Unused Subs: Smith, Payne, Clarke, Matthews
Port Vale: Brown, Joyce, Kay, Oyeleke, Miller (Whitfield, 66), Hannant (Worrall, 66), Rawlinson, Smith, Vassell (Elliott, 45), Conlon, Clark
Unused Subs: Hornby, Legge, Worrall, Pugh