Vale of Lune’s encounter against relegated Fleetwood at Melbourne Avenue did not turn out to be as easy a ride as many had expected.
On a firm pitch the Vale went on the offensive straight from the kick-off and it only seemed a matter of time before a score would materialise, but it came from an unexpected quarter when Fleetwood scrum half Tom Evans touched down after a dramatic break out had caught the Vale flat footed.
The number nine added the conversion after his side’s first excursion into Vale’s half.
Suddenly the Vale were forced on the back foot as Fleetwood bubbled and bristled – a break from Dave Hart split the Vale but his final pass went to ground.
A couple of breaks from Darren Wilson heralded a period of Vale pressure as the half drew to a close but they found it difficult to break the gain line.
Eventually Lee Acton forced his was over from close range with a surge for a try converted by James Hodder in the 35th minute to bring the scores level.
A penalty from Evans in the third minute of injury time restored Fleetwood’s lead which they extended in the opening minutes of the second 40.
Evans made a silky break to slip though the Vale’s defence before sending Dave Fairbrother whirling over for an unconverted try.
In an action-packed opening 10 minutes Fleetwood had lock Peter Benny sent to the sin bin and from where the offence had taken place Hodder kicked the penalty in the 48th minute.
Two minutes later Sam Wallbank soared at a line out to secure quality ball and Jimmy Moore ghosted through for a try converted by Hodder. With the Vale in the lead
for the first time in the game it now appeared that there was going to be no repeat of their last visit to Fleetwood in March 2009 when they somehow managed to lose 12-9.
When Andy Powers crossed for a try, courtesy of a delightful pass from Moore in the 62nd minute, converted by Hodder, thoughts began to drift towards a try bonus point, but these were put on hold when Evans kicked a penalty in the 74th minute.
As the minutes ticked down the Vale secured the bonus try when Acton calmed the nail biters in the Vale camp with his try in the 86th minute which Hodder converted to end a rousing knit one, pearl one, not so small number, admirably handled by referee Robert Sheard.
Vale of Lune: N Royle, J Hodder, A Powers, J Higgin, S Moorby, J Moore, D Wilson (capt), S Foy (A Morrison 55), O Cowey, P Berry, L Acton, S Wallbank; G Tudor (A Garnett 35), D Lin, B Charnley (A Baines 45).