- Mansfield saw their remarkable unbeaten start to the season ended
- Nigel Clough’s team had gone 19 matches undefeated in all competitions
- Alfie Devine’s eye-catching solo goal fired Vale into Carabao Cup quarter-finals
Port Vale rewrote their club history as Alfie Devine’s eye-catching solo goal fired them into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for the first time.
The last time the Valiants made the fourth round stage, they lost to Tottenham Hotspur in 2006-07. This time, it was a Spurs loanee in 19-year-old Devine who put them in the final eight.
The teenager’s goal came early in the second-half and was a reflection of the League One club’s dominance as Mansfield - from a division below - saw their remarkable unbeaten start to the season ended.
Nigel Clough’s team had gone 19 matches undefeated in all competitions - the sequence extending to 20 if you count the final game of last season - but this proved one too many.
England under-20 international Devine looks a talent and seized the moment when Mansfield allowed him too much space to run into.
Alfie Devine's deflected second-half strike sent Port Vale into the quarter-finals for first time
Vale will now hope to draw one of the big boys in the quarter-finals as they successfully navigated a tricky assignment at foggy Field Mill.
Vale are 16th in the League One table and hardly setting the division alight but they still looked far superior to Mansfield for much of the contest.
It didn’t take long for the travelling Vale fans to bring up painful memories for the locals of the 2022 League Two play-off final, when they beat Mansfield 3-0. ‘We saw you crying at Wembley,’ was one early chant.
Mansfield Town (4-3-1-2): Pym; Bowery, Flint (c), Brunt, MacDonald (McLaughlin 83); Lewis, Maris (Gale 59), Reed (Cargill 89); Clarke (Boateng 59); Keillor-Dunn, Swan (Oates 59)
Substitutes not used: Flinders (GK); Johnson, Cooper, Williams
Manager: Nigel Clough
Port Vale (3-4-2-1): Ripley; Lowe, Debrah (Cass 90+1), Smith (c); Sang, Ojo, Arblaster, Garrity; Devine, Plant; Ikpeazu (Loft 63)
Substitutes not used: Leutwiler (GK); Massey, Conlon, Shorrock, Walter, Dipepa, Thomas
Manager: Andy Crosby
Scorer: Devine 50
Booked: Smith, Thomas (off-field)
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Attendance: 7,432 (1,644 away)
But of more immediate concern to everyone inside the stadium was the thick fog which came and went throughout the evening, at times making it tricky to see the opposite side of the pitch.
Vale piled on the pressure from the outset, with Tom Sang finding plenty of joy down the right wing. He was involved in the lead-up to Vale’s first decent chance, an Oliver Arblaster strike that had to be saved by Mansfield keeper Christy Pym.
A clearer chance followed for Funso Ojo, who met Sang’s inviting cross with a header that cleared the crossbar.
Pym was being kept on his toe and he parried a Sang shot away before Arblaster came even closer, hitting the outside of the post after another raid down the right side.
Mansfield tried to counter and they did fashion a very good opportunity just after the half-hour.
Louis Reed crossed from the right and Davis Keillor-Dunn couldn’t have met it any sweeter on the volley. Unfortunately, it was directly at Vale stopper Connor Ripley, who beat it out.
The physical strength of Vale’s Uche Ikpeazu was a problem for the home defence with one of his crosses scrambled away before he fired high and wide when offered a sight of goal.
But Vale’s superiority finally told five minutes into the second-half. Devine picked up the ball, turned past Louis Reed and found space to attack as Mansfield’s defenders backed off him.
Mansfield Town forward Will Swan feels the challenge of Port Vale's Jason Lowe
Port Vale successfully navigated a tricky assignment at foggy Field Mill on Tuesday night
Devine looked up and sensed his opportunity from 25 yards, placing his shot into the bottom corner to spark delirium in the away end behind the goal.
Seeking something to spark Mansfield into life, Clough turned to his bench just shy of the hour mark with a triple change.
But Vale continued to pour forward with Ikpeazu again holding off his marker before clipping the crossbar. James Plant picked the ball up and drilled in a low near-post shot that Pym turned aside.
Mansfield need to go for broke and substitute Rhys Oates charged through only for Ripley to smother his shot as their Wembley dreams vanished in the mist.
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