A Game of Two Halves
After a dominating performance at home to Cheltenham on Saturday confidence was high before this game at Vale Park.
Kevin Blackwell made eight changes to his starting eleven that faced Cheltenham, including a first appearance for new addition Brian Jensen coming in to replace an injured Trevor Carson.
The first chance of the game fell to Port Vale with striker Ben Williamson hitting an ambitious shot at the Bury goal, but his powerful low strike was held well by Brian Jensen.
Bury had an early chance just 2 minutes in when Euan Holden played a good cross into the box. The well struck ball found the head of Chris Sedgwick who tried to loop the ball over Vale keeper Chris Neal, but the ball was hit high over the bar.
Williamson pulled free of his marker to meet Chris Birchall's cross on six minutes, but powered a header high over the bar before. With 24 minutes gone, Anthony Griffith had the first clear sight of goal for either team. Griffiths latched on to a misplaced pass in the centre of the box; although he hit the shot with power, the ball drifted wide of the target.
Vale almost took the lead on 38 minutes when Birchall played a free-kick which fell to Loft on the edge of the box. Loft controlled the ball well, placing a swerving strike that was heading into the far corner of the Bury net, until Jensen pulled off an impressive flying save.
Bury began to attack hard before half time. Jordan Sinnott, son of former Vale manager Lee Sinnott pushed the Vale midfield. He came close to scoring after 41 minutes when Chris Sedgwick had played him on with a powerful low pass. He struck the ball on the outside of the box attempting to tuck the ball into the left hand corner but keeper Chris Neal tipped it just past his post and out for a Bury corner. No-one picked up Euan Holden from the resulting corner, but his curled effort from inside crowded area, managed to find Neal's chest.
Half Time: Port Vale 1 Bury 1
Vale were struggling to break through Bury's solid defence. As well as proving to be difficult to break down the Shakers continued to be a threat going forward. On 53 minutes Jordan Sinnott tested Neal with an impressive effort from 20 yards.
After a strong start to the second, Bury's determination paid off. On the 70th minute the Shakers took the lead. Tempitope Obadeyi beat Duffy with his phenomenal pace down the right wing and pulled the ball across the Vale area for Grimes and Sinnott. Sinnott looked as though he was going to be the first name on the score sheet, but he sliced the shot. The shot fell straight to the head of Chris Sedgwick who came flying in off the back post to lash a diving header past a helpless Neal.
Marco Navas replaced Sedgwick on 78 minutes. Minutes later Vale levelled. Chris Shuker whipped the ball into a crowded Bury area. Tom Pope out powered his man to plant a header into the top corner.
On the 84th minute Neal was forced into making a brilliant double save from Shaun Harrad's efforts. Neal saved the initial 15-yard volley then blocking the rebounded shot.
Penalties looked imminent, but neither team were giving up, both continued to throw in everything but the kitchen sink.
Five minutes before time the Shakers had the opportunity to bag the winner. Sinnott played Shaun Harrad through on goal. Harrad had only Neal to beat and tried to force the keeper to commit to the challenge before attempting to chip the ball over him. Neal stood his ground, throwing his arm up into the air he managed to claw the ball away.
Three minutes of extra-time was the only thing that would prevent the two sides from going to spot-kicks.
Williamson was denied a goal with a good save from Jensen. Dickinson's impressive tackle sent the ball up into the air, eventually falling to Pope. Jensen came from his net in an attempt to encourage the Vale striker to play the ball around him, but Dickinson's had other ideas chipping the ball over Jensen into the net.
Bury continued to push on for the equaliser after the goal. The ball went out for a Bury corner. Big man Jensen made his way down from the Bury goal to aid his outfield team mates. The corner was taken quickly by Sinnott who sent the ball flying high into the Vale box. Jensen rose high in attempt to head the ball into the top right corner but he was denied his first ever league goal by the Vale defence. The referee blew for the end of the match.
Chris Neal the keeper was named man of the match which said a lot about Bury's strong attack throughout the game. The Shakers were out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy but with a strong team performance ahead of the derby against Rochdale on Saturday.
Port Vale made just three changes to the side that played Wolves at the weekend, whilst Bury’s eight changes on the night, coupled with the performance and possession stats truly show the strength and depth of the new look shakers squad.
Final Score: Port Vale 2 Bury 1
Gate: 2,351 (146)