The Valiants earned a First Round replay after a resolute display against Burton Albion with 10 men on a wet afternoon at Vale Park.
It was a flying start from Vale who after just two minutes came inches away from scoring when Ben Garrity rose above the yellow shirts in the box and connected from Tom Sang’s free kick, clipping the crossbar with his aerial attempt.
The same combination threatened the Brewers’ goal on the four-minute mark when Garrity once again met Sang’s delivery and nodded the ball into the path of Ollie Arblaster in the six-yard box, but our midfielder steered his header over.
The visitors were given no opportunity to regroup as the Valiants piled on the pressure, and only one minute passed before they nearly found the breakthrough again. Uche Ikpeazu slipped Arblaster in behind on the right side of the penalty area who then flashed a ball across searching for Garrity, however, the Burton defence managed to scramble it away.
A crucial moment in the match happened in the 17th minute when Nathan Smith mistimed a tackle on Beryly Lubala on the edge of the Vale box. The referee judged that our captain denied a goal-scoring opportunity and showed him a red card.
Directly from the free kick awarded for Smith’s challenge, the Brewers almost broke the deadlock as Joe Powell struck the woodwork with a curling set piece effort.
Midway through the first half, Vale continued their pursuit of the opening goal and narrowly missed out on scoring when Ikpeazu stripped Max Crocombe of the ball and played in Garrity. Unfortunately, a visiting defender recovered well and crucially turned Garrity’s shot behind.
Chances for the visitors were few and far between, however, they created a golden one in the third minute of stoppage time before the break. Deji Oshilaja beat Connor Ripley to the ball and pulled it across the goal for Mustapha Carayol to finish but Sang cleared brilliantly off the line.
The first opportunity of the second half fell to the visitors six minutes after the restart. In a similar position to his prior free kick, Powell aimed for Ripley’s top-right corner and his hit was matched by our keeper who tipped the ball behind.
Burton enjoyed a fine spell in the opening of the second period, and on 63 minutes Ripley was called into action again after Josh Walker cracked an effort towards his near post, but our number one denied the Brewers striker with a strong hand.
The Valiants defended resolutely to weather the storm and attempted to take the lead in the 65th minute through Alfie Devine, who burst into the Burton box and drove a low effort just to the left of Mac Crocombe’s goal.
In the 78th minute the woodwork was smashed a third time when Brewers’ substitute Cole Stockton was played in behind on the left flank with a hint of offside, before cutting in and crashing his right-footed attempt against the post.
With five minutes of normal time left Vale carved out the best chance of the contest. Devine surged through the Brewers' defence before he picked out Ryan Loft with a terrific cross who fired a shot from six-yards-out, however the visiting goalkeeper produced a fine reaction stop to keep the teams all square.
In the final minute of second half additional time, Devine won the ball and threaded through Ethan Chislett who shot straight at Crocombe as the game remained goalless.
Port Vale| Connor Ripley, Lewis Cass, Tom Sang, Nathan Smith©, Ben Garrity, Alfie Devine, Uche Ikpeazu (Ryan Loft 55’), Funso Ojo, Jason Lowe, Ollie Arblaster (Ethan Chislett , James Plant (Gavin Massey 71’)
Unused Subs: Jayson Leutwiler, Ethan Chislett, Jack Shorrock, Rhys Walters, Baylee Dipepa, Andrew Buah, Josh Thomas
Burton Albion| Mac Crocombe, Deji Oshilaja, Ryan Sweeney, Joe Powell, Jasper Moon, Josh Walker, Beryly Lubala (Cole Stockton 60’), Mark Helm (Mason Bennett 69’), Mustapha Carayol (Josh Gordon 77’), Jake Caprice, Tom Hamer
Unused Subs: Jamal Blackman, Rakeem Harper, Ciaran Gilligan, Dylan Scott, Ronny Wakelin, Will Tamen