As soon as Tom Pope scored a seventh minute opener for the Valliants, the writing was on the wall for a youthful Stoke City side in the latest version of ‘El Ceramico’ at Vale Park this evening. It was obvious just glancing at the team sheets, that Manger Neil Aspin was taking this game seriously and with only one enforced change, Lion Legge missing out & being replaced by James Gibbons, Vale looked at near full strength. Stoke U21s were without defender Harry Souttar, who missed out due to illness
Vale started brightly, creating a chance in the first sixty seconds as Pope held off the Stoke defence, freeing up Luke Hannant just outside the box, but when it looked like Hannant had done everything right, his crisp shot fizzed wide of the right hand upright. If this was a warning to Stoke’s Academy side, it wasn’t heeded and after Pope won the ball in the Stoke half, freeing Montano down the left, his pinpoint cross was met firmly by Pope’s header around the penalty spot and it nestled in the bottom left hand corner.
Game management was key as although Vale seemed to take their foot off the gas as the half moved on, they were very rarely threatened, and two goals in three minutes killed off any hopes The Potters would have going in to the second half.
Vale doubled their lead through Montano after good work by Theo Vassell down the Vale left. Picking up the ball 35 yards out, Vassell drove down the inside left channel before taking a quick shot, perhaps catching Haugaard off balance and although the City keeper made a fine save to keep the effort out, Montano was the quickest to respond to drive the ball home. Two became three just two minutes later as first Pope and then Oyeleke exchanged passes, freeing up Montano fifteen yards out, and the Colombian drove the ball across the keeper and into the welcoming net for 3-0.
Vale started the second half where they left off, dominating possession of the ball and it took The Potters until the 58thminute to test keeper Scott Brown after Jarvis swung in a cross from the right only for the striker to waste the opportunity and leave Brown with a simple save.
If it wasn’t already, Vale put the game to bed in the 68th minute after excellent work by Tom Conlon in the Vale midfield. As the ball broke free, sub Louis Dodds was able to drive into the heart of the Stoke defence, finding Pope around the edge of the box. Whilst many in the ground expected the striker to hit the target, a slide rule pass to Hannant set him free with just the keeper to beat and Hannant wasn’t about to miss driving his shot across Haugaard and again into the bottom left hand corner.
With the result all but settled the game started to meander and the only chance of note was a Conlon effort as the Vale closed the game out for a fine 4-0 victory and continuing Stoke’s poor run in Vale – Stoke derbys, dating back to 1997.