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Match Reports

Report: Port Vale 1 Rovers 1

Two first half goals result in a share of the spoils against the Valiants at Vale Park

14 July 2018

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A first half goal from each side resulted in a pre-season stalemate in warm conditions at Vale Park on Saturday afternoon.

An early own goal from Charlie Mulgrew saw Rovers go behind in the Potteries, but a planted Darragh Lenihan header later in the half meant a share of the spoils in Staffordshire.

Rovers did have their chances, with two hacks off the line from Vale players and substitute Joe Rothwell blazing over in the second half for Tony Mowbray's side, who dominated the encounter for large periods.

But it wasn't to be and both teams will have seen the game as a worthwhile workout as League Two Vale and Rovers look to step up their pre-season preparations.

There was a regular look to the starting XI in the sunshine, with mainstays from our promotion-winning season in the form of Elliott Bennett, Darragh Lenihan, Mulgrew, Derrick Williams, Richie Smallwood, Corry Evans, Bradley Dack, Dominic Samuel and Craig Conway all selected in the side that started at Vale Park.

They were joined by young pair Andy Fisher, who started in goal, and Lewis Travis, who once again got game time from the start in the Potteries.

There was no Jayson Leutwiler and Danny Graham in the squad, with the duo picking up slight knocks in training earlier in the week.

Hosts Vale included a number of new signings to their side, with Scott Brown starting in goal whilst ex-Aldershot man Manny Oyeleke and former Carlisle United player Luke Joyce both started in midfield.

A decent enough start saw Rovers knock the ball around comfortably, but following a looping Bennett pass, Mulgrew looked to nod the ball cooly back to Fisher, but instead hooked the ball over the Rovers stopper and into the net just 10 minutes in to hand the hosts the advantage.

Rovers were struggling to feed lone frontman Samuel and it was the home side who went closest to adding to their tally when experienced striker Tom Pope volleyed wide of Fisher's left-hand post with 19 minutes played.

Tony Mowbray's side did work an opportunity soon after, but Williams glanced a header over Brown's upright after latching onto a Conway free kick.

But with the next Conway delivery a few minutes later Rovers did find an equaliser, as after his teasing corner was whipped in, there was Lenihan to powerfully thump home a header despite Brown getting a glove on it.

Rovers were having the better of the half from this point onwards and only a clearance off the line denied Conway from adding to the scoreline with five minutes to go after tip-toeing his way into the box.

There was a plethora of substitutions at the break, with Fisher, Dack, Bennett, Travis and Samuel the only survivors from the first half showing.

One of Vale's three changes saw Peterborough United loanee Idris Kanu enter the action, and the teenager had the first attempt of the second half, testing Fisher after exchanging passes with Luke Hannant.

Up the other end, Dack smashed a 25-yard effort just wide as both sides searched for the lead in the Staffordshire sunshine.

The final four changes were made on the hour as Dack, Samuel, Bennett and Fisher made way for Willem Tomlinson, Joe Nuttall, Joe Rothwell and regular number one David Raya.

Substitute Brendon Daniels tested Raya with a curling free kick just after the hour as the game struggled to flow following the raft of changes from both sides.

And soon after Rovers had a glorious chance to earn the lead for Mowbray's men, but after his effort looked to be trickling in, James Gibbons hacked off the line, onto the bar and away before Rothwell smashed over from close range.

Time was running out, and Travis - the only member of the squad to play the full 90 minutes - linked up nicely with Rothwell before firing wide with eight minutes of play remaining, in what was the last real action of the game, as the match ended 1-1.

Don't forget, Rovers are back in action on Thursday night at Ewood Park when Champions League runners-up Liverpool head to our home.

Tickets for Thursday's clash against Jurgen Klopp's side remain on sale and you can purchase yours by clicking here.

Port Vale: Brown (Hornby, 46), Gibbons, McKeown, Smith, Rawlinson, Joyce (Daniels 63), Worrall (Quigley, 46), Oyeleke (Pugh, 50), Pope (Kanu, 46), Dodds (Benns, 80), Hannant

Unused substitute: Tonge.

Goal: Mulgrew OG, 10

Rovers: Fisher (Raya, 60), Bennett (Rothwell, 60), Lenihan (Downing, 46), Mulgrew (c) (Wharton, 46), Williams (Bell, 46), Smallwood (Davenport, 46), Travis, Evans (Whittingham, 46), Dack (Tomlinson, 60), Samuel (Nuttall, 60), Conway (Nyambe, 46).

Unused substitutes: N/A.

Goal: Lenihan, 24

Referee: Oli Yates

Attendance: 966 (245 away)

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