REPORT: Port Vale v Wanderers

Wanderers produced a magnificent rearguard action to survive one of the hottest days of the year with 10 men to leave Vale Park with a heroic point.

Captain Ricardo Almeida Santos and manager Ian Evatt were both sent off in a first half that had tempers reaching boiling point.

Wanderers were fuming over the dismissal of Santos but showed the discipline needed with a titanic effort in the second half to keep Vale at bay and extend their unbeaten start to the season.

Evatt’s men even had chances to win but almost ran themselves into the ground to make sure they didn’t leave empty-handed.

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The new blue away shirts were left sweat-stained on every man but Wanderers showed they have the grit to go with their guile as they dug deep all over the pitch to make 11 games without defeat in League One.

Following their mid-week cup romp Wanderers returned to the side which had started last weekend’s opening League One win over Wycombe, although there was no place in the squad for George Thomason following an unsuccessful appeal against the red card he received against Salford.

And if it had been hot on the opening two weekends of the league season, it was even warmer in the Potteries on a draining afternoon made tougher for the Whites who had to play the best part of an hour with 10 men.

Santos’ first yellow card came for a shove following the first of several wrestling matches from Wanderers’ corners with the outcome of each looking something of a lottery.

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When referee Ross Joyce did allow play to go on the Whites twice went close from corners with an Amadou Bakayoko header possibly going over the line before being cleared and Dapo Afolayan seeing an effort blocked in front of goal.

Afolayan also forced the only save of the first half as Vale debutant Jack Stevens got down well to tip away and angled drive from the Wanderers’ front man after he had been played in by Aaron Morley.

Vale also had openings but couldn’t hit the target, defender Connor Hall going closest with an effort he dragged wide after working his way into the box.

There was little in it but seven minutes before the break Wanderers’ life was made harder when Santos was controversially sent off.

New signing Ellis Harrison went to ground as he looked to spin away from the Wanderers’ skipper and Joyce showed a second yellow despite little apparent contact on the advice of the fourth official.

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The Wanderers’ bench was less than impressed, with goalkeeping coach Matt Gilks also collecting a yellow card before the Whites looked to re-group at the break.

And they had to try and manage the second half without Evatt, who was sent off at the break.

Will Aimson replaced Afolayan to provide an extra central defender in a switch to a flat back four as the temperature rose even further in a feisty start to the second half.

Inevitably, the Whites were going to have to soak up some pressure and James Trafford made a fine block to deny Harrison.

But Wanderers still looked to threaten on the break and when Kyle Dempsey released Bakayoko the striker delayed his shot and allowed Nathan Smith to block.

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Trafford was tested again as he beat out a Harrison shot but that save needed to be bettered by Stevens, who went full stretch to keep out a superb long-range strike from Morley in front of the massed ranks of travelling fans.

Not to be outdone, Trafford then made a remarkable point-blank save to keep out a Harrison header following a corner after Wanderers had used the last of their substitutes to try and find the energy to hold on to at least a point.

They all played their part as the Whites refused to buckle, Trafford keeping a memorable clean sheet behind a back line of Gethin Jones, Aimson, George Johnston the indefatigable Jack Iredale who gave everything for the cause.

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Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Santos, Johnston; Williams; Bradley (Sadlier 75), Morley, Dempsey (John 75), Iredale; Afolayan (Aimson HT), Bakayoko (Bodvarsson 63). Substitutes: Dixon, Kachunga, Lee.

Booked: Santos, Williams

Sent off: Santos

Port Vale: Stevens; Forrester (Massey HT), Smith, Hall; Cass (Pett 70), Ojo, Conlon (Walker 57), Benning; Garrity; Harrison, Proctor (Holden 64). Substitutes: Stone, Jones, Walker, Charsley.

Booked: Forrester, Hall

Referee: Ross Joyce

Attendance: 10,277 (Wanderers 3,076)

Read Time: 4 mins