Port Vale: John McCombe lasts the distance in Valiants return
PORT Vale coach Rob Page says John McCombe is closing on a first-team return as he steps up his rehabilitation from a knee injury.
The centre-half has been sidelined since New Year's Day, but completed 90 minutes in Tuesday's 3-2 Staffs Senior Cup defeat at Hednesford Town.
McCombe could now come into contention for Saturday's League Two trip to Torquay United as the second-placed Valiants attempt to rubber-stamp their place in the automatic promotion spots.
"John did well and managed to get through a very tough game without any repercussions," said Page.
Panasonic Store Camera•20x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens from 24mm...View details
What Digital camera Gold award winning DMCTZ40
SAVE £20 off our store price ONLY with this voucher
Plus you can also claim a SD card or spare battery
Choice of colours, free parking behind store
Terms: Print this voucher and hand in at Panasonic Store Hanley to save £20 off our store price ONLY £269.90
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"Whether he is ready to play at Torquay we will just have to wait and see.
"He's certainly done his chances no harm, and we'll assess him over the next few days."
McCombe's inclusion was one of the bright points in the semi-final defeat, which saw Vale surrender a two-goal lead.
Louis Dodds and Doug Price had put the Valiants in the driving seat, but Evo-Stik Premier Division high-fliers Hednesford fought back, and completed their turnaround in injury-time.
Page added: "It is disappointing to go out of any competition, but even more so after being two-up.
"In the first half we were playing in the wrong areas, but we sorted that out at half-time, changed things around a bit and got ourselves in front.
"Hednesford are a decent side in good form and when they pulled one back it gave them a lift.
"We were getting caught out with our decision-making on the ball and it proved to be our undoing in the end."
Vale took the lead in the 47th minute when Chris Shuker's right-wing cross was headed home by Dodds.
And it appeared as though Page's side were on course for the final 10 minutes later when a Shuker set-piece was converted by Price.
However, the Pitmen gave themselves a glimmer of hope after 65 minutes when Sam Barnes bundled home after Michael Lennon had seen his shot block.
Lennon was involved in Hednesford's 73rd-minute leveller when his foray forward resulted in the loose ball running to substitute Neil Harvey to tap in.
Vale were then dumped out of the competition in the second minute of injury-time, with former Leek, Newcastle and Nantwich midfielder Dave MacPherson finishing off a sweeping move.
Hednesford: Crane, Disney (MacPherson, 60), Campion, Bailey, Barnes, Melbourne, Osborne, Durrell, Rey (Harvey, 65), Lennon, Woolfe (Francis, 90).
Vale: Johnson, Whieldon, Taylor (Evans, 80), Morsy, McCombe, Price, Shuker Birchall, Williamson, Dodds, Croft.