After David Amoo’s late equaliser, the Valiants’ Papa John’s Trophy campaign came to an end via a 5-3 penalty shoot-out defeat at the AESSEAL New York Stadium against Rotherham United.
The first action of the game came soon after kick-off, as Leon Legge beat Will Grigg to a header, but the incident left the latter down and in need of treatment, but he was able to carry on.
Vale started the game brightly, pressing high and forcing some errors from the Millers’ back line, but the closest they got to a chance on goal was a header that went just wide following a Dan Jones long throw-in.
The hosts began to work their way into the game and sent a range of crosses into the box, but Leon Legge showed his aerial prowess, nodding clear each cross as they came.
The Millers had the first major chance of the game as Aidan Stone was forced into making an outstanding diving save to his right-hand post after a strike from just inside the Vale box, tipping the ball away from danger to keep the score level.
As the game passed the 25-minute mark Vale had a great chance to take the lead, Tom Conlon dinked a stunning ball over the Rotherham right-back to play Devante Rodney in down the flank, and he drove inside the area and pulled the ball back to an arriving Nathan Smith, but the defender couldn’t keep his strike from going over the bar.
Rotherham remained on the front foot for the remainder of the first period, but Vale held firm as a defensive unit, dealing with the range of balls sent into the area by the Millers.
Dennis Politic showcased his skilful feet was the half entered added time, winning a free-kick on the edge of the area which was taken by Conlon, but his powerful attempt from the dead ball was blocked by the face of a Rotherham defender in the wall.
Rotherham started the second-half on the front foot, with Joshua Kayode finding himself with the ball in the Vale area and forced a save from Stone from a tight angle.
Vale had their first attempt of the half soon after, as Brad Walker’s pass deflected to Politic who let fly from 20-yards but his shot flashed just wide of the far post.
Politic went close again with the second-half entering its 10th minute, when he was played in by Conlon and drilled a powerful strike on goal and forced a strong save from Viktor Johansson.
Vale looked to maintain their attacking period of play with Legge heading on goal from a long throw by Jones in the 56th minute but Rotherham launched quickly into an attack of their own which saw a low cross hammered home by Michael Smith to give them the lead.
Rodney had a great chance to level the score in quick fashion, out-muscling the last defender after he was played in one-on-one but he lashed his shot wide of the mark.
Vale continued to search for an equaliser after a quadruple sub, with David Amoo being denied at point blank range after he was picked out by a Lewis Cass cross.
Scott Burgess, making his first appearance of the season, was right amongst the action, doing well to win the ball and play in Amoo down the right-hand side who drilled a low ball across the face of goal, but the arriving Mal Benning failed to make contact with the ball.
Burgess was involved again soon after as he whipped in a testing cross towards the back post, which was met by Amoo, but his header went wide of the near post.
Vale refused to give up fighting for an equaliser and got their rewards just two minutes from the end of normal time, as Mal Benning found room just inside the Rotherham box and tried a shot which deflected to Amoo who drilled it home from close range.
With seconds off added time left to play Vale nearly grabbed the lead through an own-goal as an attempted clearance deflected off a Rotherham man’s back and forced a wonderful stop by Johansson, before Burgess fired just over the bar from the edge of the box before the game was sent to be decided on penalties.
Rotherham: Smith (Scored), Sadlier (Scored), Ferguson (Scored), Ladapo (Scored), Mattock (Scored).
Port Vale: Conlon (Scored), Walker (Scored), Rodney (Scored), Amoo (Saved).
Port Vale: Stone, Jones (60’ Benning), Legge (74’ Amos), Smith, Johnson (60’ Martin), Cass, Walker, Garrity (60’ Burgess), Conlon, Politic (60’ Amoo), Rodney.
Unused Subs: Covolan, Jones.
Rotherham: Johansson, Harding, Mattock, Sadlier, Grigg (45’ Smith), Bola (45’ Ferguson), Lindsay, Rathbone (64’ Miller), Kayode (76’ Ladapo), Ihiekwe (64’ Edmonds-Green), Odoffin.
Unused Subs: Chapman, Hull.