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VERDICT: Port Vale 2 Bury 1
BURY assistant manager Ronnie Jepson believed his side deserved a crack at penalties after a late Tom Pope double saw them dumped out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Vale Park on Tuesday night.
The Shakers were cruelly denied a League One scalp after going in front with 19 minutes remaining when Chris Sedgwick headed home a miscued Jordan Sinnott shot.
But the League Two side could only hold on to their lead for nine minutes as Pope equalised from a corner.
And, after Shaun Harrad had a golden opportunity charged down by Port Vale keeper Chris Neal, Pope pounced at the other end to settle the first-round tie with a stoppage-time winner.
“When their keeper was named the man of the match I think that says it all,” said Jepson.
“We could have got three or four in the second half, but they were top drawer saves. Shaun Harrad could have won it for us, but it didn’t go for him. We deserved penalties at least.”
There was very little to separate the teams in a goalless first-half that saw Bury share a decent chunk of possession without creating much in the way of chances.
Port Vale started off the brighter, with Ben Williamson testing Brian Jensen with a stinging shot in the very first minute.
The new Shakers keeper, thrown straight in for his debut following injuries to regular stoppers Rob Lainton and Trevor Carson, got down well at his near post.
A new-look Bury, which included eight changes from the side that beat Cheltenham Town 4-1 last Saturday, took a while to settle.
Their only chance of the opening stages fell to Sedgwick, but the former Sheffield Wednesday winger, making his first start for the club, looped his header high and wide.
At the other end, Vale wide-man Chris Birchall struck a crisp volley just over from 30 yards and Anthony Griffith dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box.
Jensen had to be on his toes to palm behind an arrow-like strike from Doug Loft on 35 minutes after the midfielder latched on to a short free-kick that caught the rest of the Bury defence napping.
Sinnott then forced the home keeper into a similarly smart save as Bury finished the half strongly.
They should probably have gone into the break ahead, only for make-shift left-back Euan Holden to fluff a shot from eight yards, tamely curling it straight at the keeper. Sinnott had two decent efforts on goal after the break, one strike from 25 yards deflected over and another curling side-footer smothered by Neal.
But, otherwise,Micky Adams’ side dominated possession and began to peg Bury back before they were hit by a sucker punch.
On 71 minutes, Temitope Obadayi robbed Liam Chilvers of the ball on the left before rolling it invitingly to Sinnott on the edge of the box.
And while his attempted shot sliced wildly off his right boot, it spun straight on to the head of Sedgwick who dispatched it at the back post.
But Bury were not able to hold on to their lead for long as the diminutive Pope somehow managed to rise above the visiting defenders to get his head to a Chris Shuker corner.
Harrad, who had been largely anonymous after being recalled to the starting line-up, should have put the Shakers back in front with three golden chances in the closing stages.
First he forced Neal into a fine double save and then should have done better after racing clear with five minutes remaining, only for the keeper to stand tall and block his chipped effort.
This time it was Bury who were made to pay as a rushed clearance was pinged back to Pope at the back post in the second minute of stoppage time and he dinked the ball over Jensen for Vale’s undeserved winner.
Port Vale: Neal; Duffy, Dickinson, Robertson, Chilvers; Dodds (Mohamed 72), Loft, Griffith (Shuker 45), Birchall (Myrie-Williams 72); Williamson, Pope.
Not used: Johnson, Davis.
Bury: Jensen 8; Beeley 8, Hinds 8, Edjenguele 6, Holden 7; Sedgwick 7 (Navas 78), Procter 7, Sinnott 7, Obadeyi 6; Grimes 5, Harrad 6.
Not used: Rooney, McDermott, Lockwood, Charles-Cook.
Goals: Port Vale (Pope 80 & 90+2) Bury (Sedgwick 71).
Yellow: Port Vale – Richard Duffy 27. Bury – Andy Procter 30.
Referee: David Coote.
Attendance: 2,351 (146 visiting).
Star man: Brian Jensen – Provided Bury with the commanding presence they have been missing in the opening games of the season and was unlucky to finish on the losing side. He was rarely called upon, but when he was the big Dane was equal to anything Port Vale threw at him – punching clear a number of dangerous crosses and making a few smart saves and kicked clearances. The Beast even came close to heading an equaliser from an stoppage-time corner.
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