Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos saw red in an entertaining affair at Vale Park which ended in a stalemate, despite Vale’s exciting second half display.
In a game that saw 29 efforts on goal, a strong second-half performance from the Valiants wasn’t quite enough to topple 10-man Bolton Wanderers.
The fiery encounter came to a head in the 37th minute when new signing Ellis Harrison managed to roll Bolton captain Santos and seemingly break away.
However, the Wanderers centre-back, who was already on a yellow card, tugged our number 22 down and was sent his marching orders.
The decision rattled the opposition bench, with a coach being booked in the aftermath, and visiting boss Ian Evatt’s reaction saw him sent to the stands in the half-time interval.
New signings Harrison and Jack Stevens both impressed on debut, with the latter claiming man of the match after some brilliant saves to claim a clean sheet.
It was Bolton who had the first clear effort of the game, Oladapo Afolayan driving into the box and unleashing a great strike from a tight angle, but new goalkeeper Stevens got down well and pushed it past the post.
The fast pace start from both sides continued, and it took brilliant defending from Vale to prevent the visitors from taking the lead in the 12th minute when the ball was hauled off the line after a scramble in the box from a corner.
Two minutes later it was the Valiants on the attack, after great build-up play on the left side, the ball sat up nicely for Ben Garrity, who then smashed a half volley just wide.
The home side kept the pressure on Wanderers, and the star of the opening day, Connor Hall, played a brilliant one-two with Jamie Proctor, then drove into the box, but just dragged his effort wide of the right-hand post.
The action was relentless in this match, and more brilliant defending from Vale saw another goal-line clearance, with Hall involved again as he heroically blocked George Johnston’s effort on the line.
Harrison set the tone just moments into the second half when he did well to keep the ball and feed half-time substitute Gavin Massey, who then returned a teasing ball into the box which Harrison couldn’t quite steer home.
Bolton who had their backs to the wall for most of the second period, looked like they could snatch the lead ten minutes into the second half when Bakayoko broke through from a Kyle Dempsey through ball.
Nathan Smith was up to the challenge though and did well to race back, and get in the way to block their striker’s effort.
Our new striker once again caused the Whites lots of problems, and in the 51st minute came close to opening the scoring through a close-range curling effort, but James Trafford was equal to it.
An impressive debut for Harrison continued, but Vale couldn’t quite find their goal, another effort from the striker forcing a save from Trafford, this time after great work from Mal Benning to win the ball high up to set up the striker.
At the other end, it was time for the Valiants other new addition to prove why the club brought him in, when he produced a stunning save to prevent a wonderful Aaron Morley long-range effort from nestling into the top corner.
Trafford then saw it fit to show what he was capable of in goal, producing an unbelievable stop to deny Harrison’s close-range header, keeping the scores level.
Garrity came very close to snatching it at the death when his header just went over the bar after a brilliant cross from Funso Ojo.
Port Vale | Stevens, Forrester (45’ Massey), Smith, Hall, Cass (73’ Pett), Ojo, Conlon (59’ Walker), Benning, Garrity, Proctor (68’ Holden), Harrison
Unused Subs | Stone, Jones, Charsley
Bolton Wanderers | Trafford, Jones, Santos (37’ Red Card), Johnston, Iredale, Morley, Williams, Dempsey (79' John), Bradley (79' Sadlier), Bakayoko (66’ Bödvarsson), Afolayan (45' Aimson)
Unused Subs | Dixon, Lee, Kachunga