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Neil Aspin: "The sending off killed us."

23 January 2019

Port Vale's run in the Checkatrade Trophy came to an end on Tuesday night as Bristol Rovers ran out 3-0 winners at the Memorial Stadium, and Neil Aspin admits it was always going to be a difficult task following the red card.

Bristol stated their intent early on in the encounter as they took the lead within 16 minutes; Ollie Clarke found the bottom corner from the edge of the box to put the hosts in the ascendency.

The Pirates had several chances to add to their lead before the half-time break, however they would make up for their missed opportunites with a dominant second-half display.

Tom Conlon saw red on 58 minutes having picked up two bookings, before two Bristol goals in the space of six minutes ensured the hosts progression to the semi-final of the cup competition.

The boss admitted the red card was a real game-changer for the Valiants. He said: "They deserved to go through there's no question about that. In the first half, they could've been more than one goal in front. 

"We were fortunate to be 1-0 down at half time. I did think in the second half we started brightly and we had a chance at getting back in the game. We were pushing them back and they weren't quite as comfortable in possession. 

"But the sending off killed us and straight after the sending off they get the second goal. Then you'd have to say 2-0 with 10 men, it's game over really."

Following the cup exit, the gaffer takes a look ahead to Carlisle United who make the trip to Vale Park this weeked as Vale return to Sky Bet League Two action.

The fixture welcomes the return of James Gibbons and Adam Crookes to the matchday squad, having both been ineligible for the cup tie on Tuesday night, and the boss is hoping to give the home fans 'something to shout about' this Saturday.

He said: "We all know what position we're in in terms of struggling at home. We need to give a good performance on Saturday but we have to be positive.

"We have to forget about the result tonight and we have to look at the game at Crawley where we did well. This was always going to be a tough game tonight so you have to accept that you might lose this game.

"But on Saturday we have to put in a good performance and give the home supporters something to shout about."


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