Darrell Clarke gave four first-team players a 45-minute run out alongside a team of youth players, as Kidsgrove Athletic came out on top in the first fixture of Vale’s pre-season.
Three second-half goals gave the hosts the victory in a game which gave the Valiants an opportunity to hand inexperienced youth players valuable minutes in senior football.
New Signing Funso Ojo had his first outing for the club, playing the first half of the game alongside three other first team players Dan Jones, Sammy Robinson and Harry Charsley.
Ojo got straight into the action, and within the first few minutes sent a beautiful free kick into the box, but fellow first teamer Jones couldn’t quite direct his glancing header on target.
Moments later the two combined again in a similar way, with another header from Vale’s number 3 just missing the target after a wicked ball in from the Belgian midfielder Ojo.
Academy players James Plant and Tommy McDermott both showcased their talent in the half, with McDermott’s skilful footwork raising excitement from the crowd.
Kidsgrove’s number nine couldn’t turn home a rare first half chance for the home side, dragging his effort wide after the ball deflected to him in the 16th minute.
New man, Ojo, was involved in another Vale chance in the 29th minute, this time having a strike at goal himself, but his volley was saved well by the home-sides keeper.
The second half brought a whole new 11 for Vale, all consisting of youth team players, and they came close to opening the scoring within moments through youth team trialist C who after beating two players saw his long-range effort fly just past the post.
Minutes after a bright start, Grove took the lead from a corner, with their forward heading home from close range.
In the 54th minute the hosts doubled their lead from another corner, with their number 11 smashing home from a few yards out.
Vale’s young team were not disheartened after conceding and once again youth team trialist C tested the home-sides defence, but his effort from just outside the box whistled past the left-hand post.
In the 74th minute after all the Vale team’s dominance on the ball, the home side scored their third and final goal as their winger squeezed the ball past Arron Davis.
In the final ten minutes, youth team trialist D came closest to scoring for the youngsters when he saw his effort from range just squirm wide of the post, but it wasn’t to be for Vale.