Poor refereeing, a rush of blood or failure of game management? Ask any fan who watched that game and I’m sure they’ll give you a different answer. What is for certain is that any Vale fan will be gutted this evening as the Valiants twice lost a lead to finally surrender to Tranmere 4-3 at Vale Park.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors, Otis Khan finding himself unmarked thirty yards from goal, invited to shoot and doing so, his effort crashing off the bar with Scott Brown beaten. The ball dropped to James Vaughan in front of goal, but the flag went up as the veteran striker fluffed his lines with the follow up.
That was the wakeup call that Vale needed as Vale took the lead through Tom Conlon after the award of a penalty. Scott Burgess did well in the midfield, firing a ball into Conlon’s feet in the box, the midfielder turned, pushing the ball past the defender and was seemingly ‘blocked off’ giving the referee little choice but to point to the spot. What was more interesting than the award of the penalty was Tom Pope gathering the ball but giving it straight to Conlon to take the kick. Conlon stepped up, left footed, and sent Scott Davis the wrong way picking out the bottom left-hand bottom corner.
At this stage Rovers were being restricted to long range efforts, Danny Lloyd shooting from distance on Twenty minutes and Kieran Morris chancing his arms just two minutes later, neither overly troubling Scott Brown in the Vale goal.
Vale doubled their lead on Twenty-Four minutes after good interplay down the right-hand side as first Burgess, then Clarke drove into the box and the Tranmere defence were forced to concede a corner kick. The corner was taken short by Worrall, firing into the front post where Conlon dropped the ball to an unmarked David Amoo, shooting first time into the net off the underside of the bar.
The Visitors had to respond and did so on Twenty-Eight minutes, Khan having a free kick blocked by the Vale wall and then on Thirty-Five, Corey Blackett-Taylor won a dangerous free kick in the D of the Penalty box. Calum MacDonald stepped up to take left footed, but David Worrall not only blocked the effort, but charged forward to block a cross attempt and the danger was averted.
On Thirty-Eight minutes, Vale had the ball in the net for a third time but it was disallowed. Worrall supplied a free kick high towards the back post, Pope battling with Clarke, the defender managing to head the ball but only into Leon Legge who struck the ball home, but not before referee Carl Brook blew for a free kick against Pope for the earlier tussle.
The Visitors started the Second half on the front foot and had the first strike on goal. Vale allowing Khan to run into the heart of the Vale midfield before playing the ball wide right, Kieron Morris driving into the box from an acute angle, shooting, but Brown had everything behind it to keep the two goal lead intact.
The game though turned on its head on Fifty-Two minutes. Luke Joyce receiving a straight red, going to ground far to early, selling himself a little short before catching the Tranmere midfielder. When calm heads were required from the officials, freshman Referee Brook took the ultimate decision sending Joyce from the field of play before either player had gotten back to their feet.
The visitors got themselves back into the game on Fifty-Eight minutes. Despite Pope seeming to be fouled in the build-up, Blackett-Taylor was allowed to run into the Vale Box, getting to the by-line before crossing to Vaughan who slid in from close range to bundle the ball over the line despite the best efforts of Brown in the Vale goal.
Vale could have responded on Sixty-Five minutes, an error by Monty Monthe gifted the ball to Worrall who with his first touch freed Devante Rodney into the Tranmere penalty box, the striker’s first touch was heavy though forcing the striker wide and then scuffing his shot across goal.
On Seventy-One the visitors equalised from the spot after Blackett-Smith was felled in the box, Vaughan scoring his second of the game, drilling into the roof and giving Brown no chance
The response from Vale was immediate as Amoo won a free kick down the right. Worrall took it, whipping the ball into the near post, Rodney making up for his previous miss, getting in front of his defender and glancing his header into the bottom left-hand corner giving Davis no chance.
As the game drifted into the third minute of added time a poor defensive header allowed Rovers substitute Kaiyne Woolery to drive across the goal and into the bottom left hand corner and Valiant hearts were broken on Ninety-Six minutes, Kieran Morris was given the freedom of Vale Park striking an effort from Twenty-Five yards into the top left hand corner, leaving the Valiants to a man on the turf and pointless despite a spirited performance.