Fleetwood Town were knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening after losing 3-2 to Port Vale at Vale Park.
Even though Town started both halves the better, it was the hosts who won out in the end as a brace from Ethan Chislett – one either side of the half – and another from Josh Thomas was enough for the hosts to get the win.
It was an almost perfect start for the Cods as Toto Nsiala almost found the back of the net four minutes into the clash, after latching onto Junior Quitirna’s dangerous set-piece, but goalkeeper Connor Ripley was a match for the effort.
Town’s number 15 was a key part of all the early action as his corner, soon after, was played deep towards Nsiala again, but this time he took the ball down and laid it off to Hayes, who curled the ball into the back of the net from 18 yards out, making it 1-0 just six minutes in.
Around the quarter-hour mark, the Valiants cancelled out the early goal though as a similarly brilliant strike at the other end of the pitch from Chislett curled its way past Jay Lynch, off the post from range, meaning it was game on once again.
Chances after this were scarce in the first half, but one that sticks in the mind was started by Jack Marriott in his own half as he hit a long ball into the path of Ryan Graydon a good 50-yards away, who nodded it down but fired high and wide of the target.
With added time in the first period just around the corner, Lynch had to be called upon on two occasions. The first was to deny Josh Thomas’ powerful effort from just inside the area, and the second was to stop Vale’s number 44 – once again – a minute later.
It was a quick start to the second half, with a chance coming for either side in the opening stages, with Fleetwood being more clinical, earning the side the lead for the second time in the clash.
It was a cleverly played corner kick from Town as Quitirna aimed at the near post, where Graydon was able to jump up, unmarked, and nod home to put the Cods back into the lead less than 60 seconds into the half.
But Vale came right back into the game as Thomas, who was a handful all evening, drove into the box, all whilst holding off a defender, and fired his effort past Lynch, meaning the score would be level once again at 2-2.
It looked like Vale were riding high off this confidence as, after a cluster of substitutes, they found themselves in the lead for the first time in the tie when Gavin Massey crossed the ball into Chislett, who netted his second of the afternoon from two yards out.
Town pushed to try and find an equaliser late on and take the tie to penalties, but it wasn't meant to be as this result confirmed an early exit of the cup for Scott Brown and his men - all eyes now turn to Cambridge United at home on Saturday.
Vale XI: Ripley (GK), Cass, Smith (C), Harrison (Massey 64’), Chislett (Garrity 74’), Ojo, Grant (Sang 74’), Iacovitti, Arblaster (McDermott 82’), Plant, Thomas (Wilson 64’).
Unused subs: Leutwiler (GK), Jones, Shorrock, Walters.
Town XI: Lynch (GK), Robertson (Mayor 72’), Broom (Vela 80’), Marriott, Quitirna, Holgate (Teale 80’), Graydon (Omochere 72’), Hayes, Nsiala, Rooney (C) (Asamoah 90'), Earl.
Unused subs: McMullan (GK), Johnston, Glenfield, Patterson.