Our Under-18s' progress in the FA Youth Cup came to end this evening as we were beaten by a solitary goal by Port Vale at Vale Park.
Our Under-18s' progress in the FA Youth Cup came to end this evening as we were beaten by a solitary goal by Port Vale at Vale Park.Despite dominating in terms of possession if not chances created, Alex Inglethorpe’s side - who had been in a fine run of results before tonight - were undone by an 11th minute header by Jonathan Crompton. The lads worked hard and never gave up, but Vale defended well and limited our chances.
Both teams came into the tie in good form, with our youngsters unbeaten in 12 matches including nine wins on the trot while Vale enjoyed an impressive 3-2 win away to Bolton Wanderers in the previous round. With a crowd of 2,104 in attendance, it had the makings of a great cup tie.
Coach Alex fielded a much-changed side to the one which beat Chester City in the previous round at the Lane last month, with the likes of Dean Parrett, Oscar Jansson, Sam Cox and Steven Caulker coming in, while Vale included two players with first team experience in the form of strikers James Lawrie and Danny Glover – son of assistant manager Dean.
Just over a minute was on the clock when the first chance arose, the visitors creating it as Lawrie found Glover through on goal but Jansson saved with his feet for a corner. Minutes later we had our first opportunity, Danny Hutchins’ mis-hit shot found Danny Rose, his header was well-saved by Chris Martin although the assistant’s flag would have ruled it out anyway.
Then the home side took the lead in the 11th minute as their central defensive partnership combined. Jamie Elwell took a long throw in line with the edge of our box and Crompton rose highest to head past Jansson.
We almost levelled shortly after when Parrett won possession inside his own half and launched a counter-attack, he fed Ryan Mason who was just about to round keeper Martin when Adam Copeland slid in to clear the danger. It was end to end stuff and Vale nearly doubled their lead when Glover laid off to Simon Richman but Jansson was quickly off his line to smother the shot.
On 25 minutes and following a good spell of possession, Rose nearly levelled when the ball fell to him in the area following a free-kick, but despite a fine turn and shot, his effort was blocked inside the six yard box. And 12 minutes later, Parrett got to the byline and chipped to the far post where Mason’s downward header was goalbound until it hit Copeland and deflected for a corner.
Five minutes before the break Vale created a good chance for Lawrie after Danny Edwards’ pass, but he shot high and wide, while the final opportunity fell to Jon Obika following Parrett’s driving run into the Vale half, but the striker’s shot was blocked and the half ended with the home side in front.
There were no changes for either side at the break, and it was 10 minutes into the second half before the first chance came and again it fell to Obika. This time it was Rose doing the creative work, beating his man down the right before sending in a low cross which fell to Obika eight yards out in front of goal but he failed to connect properly and Martin gathered the shot.
We had to go for broke with just 11 minutes left and made a double substitution, replacing Sam Cox and Steven Caulker with David Hutton and Alex Olsen, with Livermore dropping into the back four.
But although we saw plenty of the ball it was Vale who fashioned the next chance when Glover found Luke Chapman and his half-volley was saved by Jansson at the expense of a corner.
The lads continued to dominate possession and kept passing the ball well, looking for openings, but couldn’t find any gaps in a resolute Vale defence. In added time Hutton found time and space on the right to cross into the box, Obika headed goalwards but only straight at Martin. It was to be the final chance on a disappointing evening.
Port Vale: Chris Martin, Danny Edwards, Adam Copeland, Paul Dixon, Jonathan Crompton, Jamie Elwell, Simon Richman, Ross Davidson, James Lawrie, Danny Glover, Luke Chapman (Sam Lovatt 90). Subs: Lloyd Ransome, Sean Pike, Lindon Share, James Beeston
Spurs: Oscar Jansson, Sam Cox (David Hutton 79), Danny Hutchins, Jake Livermore, Calum Butcher, Steven Caulker (Alex Olsen 79), Dean Parrett, Danny Rose, Jon Obika, Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend (Yaser Kasim 36). Subs: James Butler,Yuri Berchiche
Referee: D Mohareb