Sunderland 2-0 Port Vale: a bad night for Port Vale saw injuries and an insipid performance as a much changed Vale side bowed out of the Football League Trophy at the hands of Sunderland.
Caretaker manager Danny Pugh made seven changes from the side which won against Grimsby Town on Saturday. However, the changes in personnel and formation resulted in a flat Valiants display as they failed to put a single shot on target in the first-half.
The first 45 minutes were notable from a Vale perspective only by an early injury to youngster Alex Hurst and a couple of forthright clearances from full-backs Zak Mills and Adam Crookes. The home side enjoyed the vast majority of the possession and it was no surprise when they took the lead through Aiden O’Brien who skipped past a Zak Mills challenge to beat Dino Visser. Sunderland could have scored more with Aiden O’Brien hitting the woodwork and Chris Maguire forcing a decent save from Visser.
The second period started in much the same vein with pretty much the only Vale incident of note an injury to Danny Whitehead which saw new signing Jake Taylor take to the field, Moments later, Tom Conlon saw his free-kick go just wide. Theo Robinson, playing on his own upfront, was left isolated and there were few noteworthy performances by anyone in a Port Vale shirt.
The Valiants made a triple change with twenty minutes to go. Forwards Pope and Cullen came on upfront as the side reverted to 4-4-2. Minutes later, Sunderland should have made it two but a fine reflex save from Visser and a desperate clearance averted the danger. There was then another injury concern for Danny Pugh’s side as a heavy challenge left Pope writhing on the ground. Luckily the veteran was able to recover.
Despite six minutes of added time to allow for the injuries, the game meandered to a close with a late Cristian Montano drive past the post, Vale’s only shot in anger. On the other hand, the home side had a number of chances with a late break seeing Visser bring down Jack Diamond and Aiden McGeady fired the resulting penalty home.
This was a bad night for the Vale. They missed out on some cup prize money, suffered two injured players and none of the fringe members of the squad did anything to impress. It’s perhaps one to forget for Danny Pugh as the side now focus on the League for the remainder of the season.
Full-time: Sunderland 2-0 Port Vale
Port Vale: Visser, Mills, Smith, Legge, Crookes (Fitzpatrick), Whitehead (Taylor), Burgess (Cullen), Conlon, Hurst (Montano), Robinson (Pope), Amoo
Subs: Brown, Brisley