Port Vale have exited their first cup competition of the season as they were well beaten by a classy Bolton Wanderers outfit in the Football League Trophy knockout stages.
Andy Crosby named Uche Ikpeazu and Ryan Loft upfront again but neither could break their goal duck during a largely lacklustre Vale display.
It could have been so different as both strikers had chances. Loft had a header onto the roof of the net in the fourth minute while Ikpeazu had a couple of second-half efforts saved.
The home side caused Vale’s defence numerous problems. A snapshot from the lively Charles was saved while the same player shot over when well placed. The opener came from a familiar event – a Vale defensive mix-up. Iacovitti and Balmer got in each other’s way leaving Bolton two on one and Dempsey calmly squared to Charles to open the scoring on nine minutes.
Both sides had penalty claims in a matter of minutes with Vale believing Conlon was tripped by the keeper and the home side then appealing for a foul in the box. It could have been worse than 1-0 at half-time but Balmer saved Leutwiler’s blushes when the keeper was caught out of position.
Vale started the second-half brightly with Ikpeazu’s sharp shot saved and a header tipped over. However, the home side remained a constant menace to the Vale defence. On the hour mark Mendez-Gomez was sent clear to make it 2-0 and finish the game as a contest.
There was still time for Vale sub Ben Lomax to almost score from a cross-shot and for Bolton to miss a twice-taken penalty. However, Vale can have few complaints about the result with young midfielder Rhys Walters arguably the only player to come out of the game with his reputation enhanced. An arguably much more important game awaits Vale on Saturday and Andy Crosby’s side will need to put on a much better performance at Exeter’s St James Park.
Port Vale side – Leutwiler – Debrah, Balmer (Cass), Iacovitti – Massey (Lomax), Walters, Conlon, Grant (Shorrock) – Chislett – Ikpeazu (Garrity), Loft (Dipepa)
Unused subs – Ripley, Ojo
Vale bookings – Iacovitti
Our Port Vale man of the match – Rhys Walters
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