Match report: Port Vale 2 Stevenage 2

Graham Westley

Graham Westley - Credit: Archant

Boro are denied victory by Tom Pope’s header 90 seconds from time

Port Vale 2 Stevenage 2

Sky Bet League 1

Stevenage were denied victory by a last-gasp Tom Pope header at Port Vale this afternoon (Saturday).

Up 2-1 but down to 10 men following a second yellow card for Michael Doughty, Boro conceded with just 90 seconds left on the clock when the Vale striker headed past Chris Day and into the bottom corner for 2-2.

It had been an entertaining match full of incident, but a case of two points dropped at the death by Boro who had looked like holding on despite being down a man.

Stevenage went into the game without the suspended Filipe Morais and Simon Heslop, while Lucas Akins and Peter Hartley did not travel with the squad.

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There were, however, starting places for Bruno Andrade, Jordan Burrow, Roarie Deacon and Greg Tansey, while there was a place on the bench for the returning James Dunne.

There was an early sight of goal for the home side with Chris Birchall having a shot from the edge of the box, only to see his effort blocked by a Boro defender.

Pope then went close with a header from a corner on the left, but Vale’s top scorer this season struck the Stevenage crossbar from six yards out.

Jennison Myrie-Williams, despite the ability to scare the living daylights out of defenders with his pace, never made it at Stevenage.

He has at Vale, though, and on more than one occasion in the first-half he got the better of right-back Jimmy Smith including once midway through the half when he put in a cross/shot that Day had to palm away to safety.

The two teams were lucky to get any sort of rhythm going in the first half what with referee Eltringham’s profligacy of blowing his whistle any time two players came anywhere near each other.

It was a situation summed up when he gave both Carl Dickinson and Ben Chorley yellow cards for what appeared little more than a heated conversation between the two.

By this time the home supporters were singing ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ at the match official, but within a minute they were singing in delight after the referee awarded their side a penalty indicating a foul by Chorley.

Boro were left fuming, and it was left to Myrie-Williams to strike the ball high past Day for 1-0.

Boro were soon level, however, after fantastic work from Zoko near the left byline saw the Stevenage striker put the ball across the face of goal where his striker partner, Burrow, was waiting to turn it in for 1-1.

The same man then popped up moments later with his second of the game.

Deacon had made the run into the box only to go down under pressure. The referee waved play on and after Zoko had taken a touch Burrow took over and fired a quick shot past Sam Johnson and into the home goal for a 2-1 lead.

The visitors went close to an equaliser of their own in first-half injury time when Myrie-Williams beat Smith and then a second Boro player before forcing a low save out of Day, while at the other end Zoko also got into the box but Johnson also saved low.

The second half was only a minute old when Bruno Andrade, picking up a Zoko back-heel, curled a shot just over the Vale crossbar.

Moments later Doughty received a yellow card for time wasting at a corner he was taking. The Boro midfielder was gesticulating to his team-mates to give him more options, and when he finally put the ball in it was caught with ease by Johnson.

Boro were forced into a substitution just after the hour-mark when Chris Day, on coming for a ball in his box, followed through into defender Jon Ashton who had to be replaced by Luke Jones.

For the hosts, Myrie-Williams then went close but put his header off target.

Doughty’s earlier booking for timewasting seemed stupid at the time, and it was to cost the on-loan QPR man as with just over 20 minutes to go the midfielder was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge.

Boro, though, brought on David Gray for Burrow in an attempt to shore up things at the back, but with just 90 seconds of normal time remaining Pope stepped up to head in a dramatic equaliser.

The striker had forced one save out of Day with a header just seconds before, with the ball sent back into him, the same player got up highest and directed his next effort into the corner for 2-2.

Port Vale: Johnson, Yates, Robertson, Duffy, Dickinson, Birchall (Taylor 61), Lines, Griffith (D Jones 61), Myrie-Williams, Pope, Tomlin (Hughes 79). Subs: Boot, Chilvers, Dodds, Taylor, Williamson, Jones.

Stevenage: Day, Smith, Chorley, Ashton (Jones 65), Deacon, Freeman, Tansey, Doughty, Andrade (Dunne 69), Zoko, Burrow (Gray 79). Subs: Arnold, Wedgbury, Parrett, Tounkara.

Ref: Eltringham

Att: 4,967 (91 away)

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