Report | Wanderers 2 Port Vale 0

port vale celebration

It was a professional display from Ian Evatt's men as they secured their passage into the last-16 of the Bristol Street Motors Trophy with victory over Port Vale. 

Wanderers came into the game on the back of three straight wins in the Group Stage, and currently on a 10 game-unbeaten run after victory over Harrogate Town in the FA Cup last weekend.

Vale arrived at the Toughsheet Community Stadium knowing Evatt's side made seven changes from the weekend win, emphasising the strength in-depth of the Whites' squad. 

Wanderers started quickly, and threatened early on when Dion Charles had a chance to find the top corner from a tight angle, but sliced his effort wide.

Charles did not have to wait long, however, to get the opening goal when turning home a Kyle Dempsey square ball on nine minutes. A long ball down-field caused problems in the Vale defence as two players collided with each other as Victor Adeboyejo made himself a nuisance. 

The ball landed nicely for Dempsey to burst through into the clear and square it early enough for Charles to turn home into the roof of the net and hand Wanderers the lead. 

The goal confirmed a Club record for this Wanderers team of the 'most goals scored in a calendar year from a Bolton team'. Dion's goal pushed them to 105, beaten the record of 104 set in 1934 with five games of 2023 remaining.    

Following the goal, the Whites were well in the ascendency and looked to make it a quick-fire double as Charles lined up an effort from 25 yards, but Leutwiler was down to gather. 

It was mostly wave after wave of Wanderers attacking play in the opening 20 minutes, but the visitors would threaten with an occasional venture into the home side's half. 

Wanderers came close to a second as Charles looked for a double and good work from Will Forrester set him up. The defender joined the attack and drove down towards the Vale penalty area looking to create the opening for an effort on target. 

The space did not open for Will, so he set it back for Dion to stab towards goal with a snap-shot effort, but Leutwiler again produced a good save to deny him. 

For the first time inside the opening 45 in what was an entertaining game, the tempo of the final 10 minutes of the half slowed as half-time approached. 

That was not the case at the start of the second, however, as the visitors looked to find the leveller.

Uche Ikpeazu was at the centre of everything good for Vale as they pushed for a goal, and the striker forced Joel Coleman into action just three minutes into the second half when holding off the Jack Iredale challenge and getting his strike away, but the Wanderers' keeper pushed it behind for a corner. 

The pressure from the hosts continued, and Ikpeazu and Coleman locked horns again as the Vale man headed towards goal from a Jesse Debrah long throw, but Coleman was on-hand to react and tip the effort over the bar. 

Wanderers stood firm, and kept their clean sheet intact and responded by going back on the front foot. 

Josh Dacres-Cogley found a lot of joy down the right-hand side all night, and was released into space from a George Thomason pass. His cross was just-off, with Carlos Mendes Gomes recycling the ball to create a chance inside the area, but it was cleared for a corner. 

The game was put to bed just a few minutes later as Mendes Gomes latched onto a lovely through ball from Charles after great work between the Northern Ireland international and Adeboyejo to release the attacking midfielder.

With just the goalkeeper to beat, Mendes Gomes kept his cool and fired confidently past Leutwiler to extend Wanderers' lead to two. 

The game, like it did in the opening half, slowed as the game edged towards a finish but there was still time for a Wanderers penalty.

Cameron Jerome did well to beat one and draw the foul, allowing Dan Nlundulu to step up. His first penalty was confidently tucked away, but was ordered to retake after the referee adjudged there to be encroachment. 

Nlundulu stepped up once again, but Leutwiler made a good save to deny the frontman before the visitors cleared their lines with a rebound effort from Nlundulu looking likely. 

It mattered little as Ian Evatt's men had done enough previously to avoid drama and safely progress - continuing the trophy defence into the last-16. 

Bolton: Coleman (GK), Dacres-Cogley, Forrester, Toal (Capt), Iredale, Ashworth, Morley, Dempsey, Maghoma, Adeboyejo, Charles

Subs: Williams, Thomason, Sheehan, Mendes Gomes, Bodvarsson, Nlundulu, Jerome

Goalscorers: Charles (9), Mendes Gomes (64)

Port Vale: Leutweiler (GK), Balmer, Loft, Chislett, Ikpeazu, Grant, Iacovitti (C), Massey, Conlon, Walters, Debrah 

Subs: Ripley (GK), Cass, Garrity, Ojo, Shorrock, Dipepa, Lomax

Read Time: 4 mins