Following Port Vale's 1-1 draw with league leaders Lincoln City, Neil Aspin has praised his side's character and performance, having taken a point from Sincil Bank with the odds stacked against them.
Vale were without a win in five and in desperate need of a result as they travelled to Sincil Bank on New Years Day to face table-topping, Lincoln City. The Imps had won four of their last five league meetings and were hot favourites ahead of the tie, and the hosts took a slender 1-0 lead before the half-way stage.
Vale failed to clear a corner as Shay McCartan was on-hand to tap home from close range to give The Imps the lead. With the game into it's 90th minute, the points looked all but wrapped up for the home side, however, Manny Oyeleke had other ideas. The stately midfielder took range from 25 yards and arrowed a strike into the top-left corner to ensure the spoils were shared at Sincil Bank.
The boss was delighted with his side's performance.
He said: "Today was a day where they had to be men. They had to roll their sleeves up and really work hard.
"They had everything against them today; coming off the back of a couple defeats, going to a team that's top of the league, full packed stadium and also against a team that's already turned us over twice.
"I don't think anybody gave us a prayer today, so I'm delighted for the players. They totally deserved it."
Manny's 90th minute equaliser earned himself the Sky Sports News first 'Goal of the Day' winner of 2019, pipping his competitors by just two percent in the polls.
But, not only was it a moment of magic that earned Vale the point on Tuesday afternoon, it was the fighting spirit shown by the players from start to finish in what was, according to Neil Aspin, 'the last game they would've wanted' to begin the new year with.
He said: "Forget about everything else. It was a great performance by the players today.
"It is difficult to come here, it's the last game we would've wanted, but the players were tremendous. They played like men today. They talked, they competed well and considering we changed the formation because we were playing Lincoln, because the previous two times we've got no where near them.
"Today we changed it slightly, and it worked. It only worked because the players carried out their jobs."