Town draw at home to Vale in the EFL Youth Alliance
Town: Jack Atkinson, Ryan Sears, Jake Kerins, Joel Bonner, Matt Jones, George Hughes, John McAtee (Tyrone Ofori 60), Chris Gallagher, Aaron Gilpin, Ryan Barnett, George Hassell (Charley Higgs 72)
Subs: Charley Higgs, Tyrone Ofori, Wes Garfield, Cameron Esien, James Rowlands
Port Vale: Deaumu Crockwell, Jake Thomas, Charlie Walford, Mike Calveley, Ben Fraser, Luke Dennis, Mike Conlon, James Steele, Brian Barton (Lucas Green-Birch 88), Liam Mottram (Tom Danlby 71), Jack Grimshaw (Matthew Ward 64)
Subs: Matthew Ward, Joshua Ryder, Tom Danlby, Joshua Ede, Lucas Green-Birch
Jack Atkinson pulled off a string of fine save as Town drew 1-1 win Port Vale on Saturday. Port Vale started strongly, but Town opened the scoring through George Hassell. The goal looked to have given Town all three points as Atkinson preserved the lead until the 80th minute when Port Vale finally breached the Town goal and took home a hard earned point.
Ryan Barnett returned to the team after a few weeks with the first team squad. Ryan Sears was available despite being sent off last weekend and George Hassell and George Hughes were back after being rested against Wigan. Under-14 Goalkeeper Wes Garfield took his place on the bench.
After last week’s disappointing 4-0 defeat Town were looking to put things right at they returned to the Shrewsbury Sports Village to take on Port Vale. However, in the opening 15 minutes it appeared last week’s result was still in the players system as Vale dominated proceedings.
Vale’s lively front pair of Brian Barton and Liam Mottram were causing Town problems at regular intervals and it was thanks to the fine goalkeeping of Jack Atkinson and three last ditch blocks by Jake Kerins that Town remained in the game.
Atkinson’s finest save came after Port Vale had recycled a corner and Mottram’s shot looked destined to make the net bulge after taking a deflection but Atkinson got down well to make a great save with his legs.
However, it would be Town who would take the lead against the run of play when Aaron Gilpin beat Charlie Walford with ease down the right before putting over a sumptuous cross which George Hassell headed powerfully into the top corner beyond the despairing dive of Crockwell in the 27th minute.
The goal appeared to give Town confidence and they came close to second when Matt Jones’ corner was flicked on by John McAtee, but Joel Bonner couldn’t find the touch at the back post.
McAtee then had a chance of his own when Ryan Sears’ header found John in behind the Vale defence, but Vale defender Ben Fraser made up the ground and made a great block just McAtee pulled the trigger.
Vale still looked dangerous on the counter attack and Jack Atkinson was forced to tip a 25 yard effort from Mike Conlon over the bar, but Town were beginning to look the more dangerous before the break as Ryan Barnett began to get more involved.
Half Time: 1-0
Port Vale started the second half brightly as they searched for an equaliser and Jack Atkinson had to be at his best to keep out a Brian Barton shot which bounced nastily in front of him, but he got down well and tipped the ball round the post.
Town remained dangerous on the break with Gilpin’s pace causing all sorts of problems for the Vale defence and his cross almost found McAtee but he couldn’t make the desired connection and Vale cleared.
The first 15 minutes of the second half lacked the action of the first and Town made their first substitution on 60 minutes when Tyrone Ofori replaced John McAtee with Ryan Barnett moving into his preferred number 10 position.
The change appeared to have the desired effect as Town began to regain control of possession at more regular intervals. Barnett, Ofori and Gilpin were at the heart of Town’s best play and the latter’s cross almost found Hassell but he couldn’t control the finish after a well worked move.
Port Vale continued to look dangerous from set pieces and Jack Atkinson was forced to punch well after a dangerous corner. Vale then went close from a free-kick but Conlon’s effort went just over the top.
Callum McKenzie made Town’s second change of the day when Charley Higgs replaced George Hassell who had run himself into the ground thanks to a hardworking display.
With 15 minutes to go Port Vale began to push men forward and put Town under increasing pressure. Jack Atkinson was again called into action when Conlon shot from distance but Jack tipped the ball over the bar for a corner.
However, from the resulting corner Vale did find an equaliser on 80 minutes as Town cleared the initial cross, but it fell to Ben Fraser who curled a powerful shot past Atkinson who didn’t even have time to move.
Both teams pushed for a winner in the final 10 minutes and Town almost found it with the last kick of the game but Charley Higgs’ shot was straight at Crockwell and Town had to settle for a draw.
Full Time: 1-1