Cheltenham Town 1 Port Vale 1 - match report
LOUIS Dodds scored his first goal since September to rescue an important point for Port Vale.
The forward struck in the 67th minute, ramming home the rebound after Tom Pope's header had been saved.
Cheltenham had deservedly taken the lead only five minutes earlier through Darren Carter.
The dominant home side went within inches of winning it right at the end, only to have two efforts cleared off the line by substitute Chris Shuker.
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Vale made three planned changes to the team which lost at home to Chesterfield last week, and were forced to make another just before kick-off.
With Jennison Myrie-Williams suspended, Ashley Vincent was switched from left to right with Rob Taylor coming in on the left of midfield. Sam Morsy returned in central midfield at the expense of Kingsley James and Louis Dodds replaced Calvin Andrew up front.
Clayton McDonald tweaked a muscle during the warm-up, which meant a last-minute change of plan with Liam Chilvers replacing him at centre-half.
Vale went close early on when Richard Duffy's cross gave Dodds the chance to flick a header just wide, but the home side looked dangerous going forward and Sido Jombati's low cross had to be bundled to safety with his front men closing in.
John McCombe's close-range header from a 19th-minute corner had to be parried behind by Cheltenham keeper Scott Brown, and the Valiants, growing into the game nicely, went close again soon after when Vincent's shot, after some neat interplay, was well saved by Brown.
Morsy was booked for a trip in the middle of the park, but with Dodds influential, Vale were looking the better side, even though Darren Carter's long-range effort made sure keeper Chris Neal was on his toes.
Cheltenham had a great chance to go in front four minutes before the break. Jake Taylor's shot from the edge of the area fell for Chris Zebroski, who somehow missed the ball completely with the goal at his mercy.
Vale were breathing a sigh of relief straight after the break too. Billy Jones had a shot brilliantly charged down by Duffy, then smashed the rebound against the post with Neal beaten.
The home side pressed again and Loft had to clear Marlon Pack's header off the line before Steve Elliott drilled straight at Neal when well placed.
Shaun Harrad fizzed another effort just wide as Vale were pushed back and Neal then pulled off the save of the day after 58 minutes. The Robins raided down the right and Taylor's header looked to be heading into the top corner before the keeper dived full-length to his left to palm it away.
But the goal Cheltenham had been threatening wasn't long in coming. Zebroski's shot from 18 yards was cleared by Duffy only as far as Carter, who steered his first-time shot into the corner of the net.
Vale, though, hit back with an equaliser in the 67th minute. Taylor's cross from the left gave Tom Pope the chance of a close-range header and though his effort was kept out by Brown, Dodds picked up the rebound and fired low into the corner.
Boss Micky Adams threw on striker Ben Williamson for the last eight minutes, with Dodds taking over Vincent's role on the right. Ryan Burge went close with four minutes to go only to shoot straight at the keeper having been set up by Pope, and Morsy fired a free-kick only a yard wide.
But Cheltenham went so close to a winner right at the end when substitute Shuker twice cleared the ball off his own goal line.
The midfielder denied sub Darryl Duffy and then Marlon Pack as Vale were happy to settle for a point in the end.
Cheltenham Town: Brown, Jombati, Elliott, Bennett, Jones, Pack, Carter, J Taylor (Goulding, 88), Penn (McGlashan, 75), Zebroski, Harrad (Duffy, 75). Subs not used: Lowe, Deering, Roberts, D'Ath.
Port Vale: Neal, Duffy, McCombe, Chilvers, Loft, Vincent (Williamson, 82), Burge, Morsy, R Taylor (Shuker, 88), Dodds (Andrew, 90), Pope. Subs not used: Yates, Johnson, James, McDonald.
Referee: Mark Haywood