Vale start this match with 4 league match unbeaten record. Vale have been forced into a number of changes due to the injuries sustained at the last two games.
Vale started in a very unfamiliar 442 formation with Pope and Cullen up front. This is the formation often asked for on forums and call ins, but what is popular with the fans, isn’t always the best strategy. Mansfield on the other hand went with a 352 formation with an attempt to dominate the middle.
Mansfield start the stronger team with a lot of the earlier play. The dangerman for Mansfield Christopher Hamilton showed his pace and skill right from the start and the Vale back four really struggled to manage him, with him often getting ahead and Vale having to cover him with two of the back four available.
It took just 14 minutes for the deadlock to be broken Kellan Gordon slotting away a rebound of the keeper. Vale defence really should have done better as there was a number of chances to get the ball clear. At this point, Mansfield deserve the lead.
Shortly after the goal Christian Montano is taken off with a injury. John Askey after the match said that he thinks it’s a hamstring and they will have to have a look at why this keeps happening to players and this might to something that they have to address in training.
Tom Pope is been frustrated by the Mansfield defence as they seem to be holding him and mauling him. The referee does not agree though as he waves away the protests from him. On the 26th Minute though Tom is shown a yellow for chasing a player and fouling him, Tom felt it was unfair as he says in the post match interview.
With 40 minutes gone, the Mansfield defence make a mistake and the ball bounces through, unfortunately Pope is just not fast enough to get on the end of it and Mansfield back three are very lucky not to have given away a goal.
The Referee adds 4 minutes on the end of the match. This plays into the hands of Vale as the ball is crossed into the box in the 49th minute and Tom Pope controls in and turns the Mansfield defender is not able to get his footing and falls to the floor. Doing just enough to stop Popey shooting and the ball is crossed across the box and Cullen heads it home to end the half 1 all.
The second half started with Mansfield controlling most of the play and again danger man Hamilton showing real pace down the left side and getting a number of key crosses into the box. Luckily for Vale the back up for him are not as fast as he is and his cross was easily cleared.
Kellan Gordon pushes over a vale player, at first the referee appears to wave play on, but is called back. Little bit unsure who brought his attention to the push but he calls play back and only has a strong word with him. The fans calling for a Red, but I am a little surprised to see nothing shown.
Moments later Neal Bishop punches the ball away as he clearly disagrees with the referees decision to give a foul against him. The ref again feels only a strong word is needed. The fans on the other hand are singing out the you don’t know what you are doing.
The most controversial moment of the match happens in the 75th Minute as Danny Rose goes down in the box. From the press area it looked like Danny Rose ran into Leon Legge who could do very little about it. Danny felt the contact and went down. The Vale players surround the referee after he points to the spot. Danny then puts the ball away to make it 2-1 to Mansfield. Before the game can be restarted there is a altercation in the middle involving Leon legge. The referee issues two yellow cards, one for Leon Legge and one for the gaffer John Askey.
The referee adds 5 minutes to the end of the game and Vale push forward in the hope of getting something from the game. Mark Cullen takes the ball forward but loses his footing. The Mansfield defender for reasons only known to him smashes the ball out for a corner.
Warroll drifts it in and it bounces about in the box, the final touch coming to Nathan Smith (Smudge). Who makes it level on the 94th minute.
While Vale did not have a good game they did not deserve to lose to a controversial penalty and I suppose the draw was probably the best result all round.
Tom Pope on how the team played and the refereeing decisions
John Askey on the team performance