Port Vale booked their place in the Quarter-Finals of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night, beating Shrewsbury Town on penalties. Tom Pope's late equaliser cancelled out Ryan Sears' opener, and it was Luke Hannant's spot kick that proved decisive in the resulting shootout at Vale Park.
Both sides struggled to create anything of note early on as they looked to impose themselves on the game, but the visitors went close with a free-kick on 10 minutes as Abobaker Eisa sent his effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Despite the Sky Bet League One side looking comfortable in possession, it was Vale who managed to carve out the next sighting of goal after 20 minutes. James Gibbons’ curling cross found Ben Whitfield at the front post, and his deflected effort dropped just wide of the post.
That attack seemed to galvanise the Valiants and Neil Aspin’s men looked to get on the front foot, but despite looking dangerous in wide areas, they were unable to capitalise. Pope did get on the end of a ball over the top to arrow a half-volley towards goal on 27 minutes, only for Christos Shelis to divert it off target via an outstretched leg.
With three minutes left to play of the first half, Vale went agonisingly close to taking the lead. Luke Joyce’s initial strike deflected behind for a corner, and it was the resulting delivery from Hannant that caused chaos. Antony Kay managed to flick the ball into the path of Pope, but his diving header from close range could only find the hands of Joel Coleman.
Shrewsbury then wasted a golden opportunity of their own just before half-time as Josh Emmanuel headed over from six yards. Ryan Barnett looped a cross onto the head of the defender after some good work down the right flank, but Scott Brown was left untested in the Vale goal as the full-back squandered his chance.
The next opportunity fell Vale’s way following the restart as Joyce let fly from range on 57 minutes after he was teed up by Manny Oyeleke, but the midfielder’s tame strike was collected by Coleman. Shrewsbury then took aim up the other end just after the hour mark, but Emmanuel’s dipping free-kick was wayward.
With 63 minutes played, the deadlock was broken, but it was the visitors who got it. Patient build-up resulted in a deep cross being floated in from the left, and Vale were unable to stop Sears as he charged in to power a header beyond the reaches of Scott Brown.
Dior Angus was then introduced as a substitute for Vale as they attempted to find a route back into the game, but the Shrews did well to dictate the tempo of the game. Kay did try his luck with an optimistic volley from 30 yards after he was able to bring a Gibbons pass down on his chest, only to be denied by the goalkeeper.
Vale continued to knock on the door and they very nearly found a way through with 10 minutes left on the clock, but Connell Rawlinson’s header was hooked off the line with Coleman scrambling. That didn’t deter the hosts, however, as Pope poked home an equalizer just three minutes later after he got on the end of a Hannant cross.
Hannant then had a chance to snatch a winner at the death, but he blazed his effort over the bar, meaning the tie was to be decided by a penalty shootout. Brown pulled off two saves to give his side the edge, and Hannant then stepped up to calmly convert what proved to be the decisive spot kick.
The draw for the Quarter-Finals will be made live on Sky Sports News on Thursday evening at 7pm. Keep your eyes peeled to see who Vale will face next in the competition!
Port Vale: Scott Brown, James Gibbons, Luke Joyce (Dior Angus 67’), Antony Kay, Manny Oyeleke, Tom Pope (C), Luke Hannant, Connell Rawlinson, Nathan Smith, Mitch Clark, Ben Whitfield (Ricky Miller 79’).
Unused Substitutes: Sam Hornby, David Worrall, Louis Dodds, Theo Vassell, Tom Conlon.
Shrewsbury Town: Joel Coleman, Josh Emmanuel (Alex Gillead 90’), Kieran Kennedy, Omar Beckles (C), Lee Angol, Doug Loft, Abobaker Eisa, Ryan Sears, James Rowland (Fejiri Okenabirhie 90’), Ryan Barnett, Christos Shelis.
Unused Substitutes: Steve Arnold, Lifumpa Mwandwe, Kian Taylor, Jack Leask, Jamaine Turner.
Attendance: 1,355 (192 away).