Vale of Lune 23-23 Sale FC

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A large crowd at Powder House Lane witnessed a dramatic encounter with a nail-biting conclusion that matched the passion and intensity which had flowed through a game that held the attention from the first whistle until the last shrill blast.

As the game moved into injury time the Vale trailed 23-18 and with prop Andrew Sutcliffe having been sent to the sin bin in the 75th minute Sale appeared to be edging towards victory.

However Vale popped a penalty into touch and hammered away at Sale’s line, the visitors having a forward replacement sent to the sin bin, a confident home pack opting for a scrum.

All the Vale had to do was keep their concentration and nerve and at the decisive moment number eight Gareth Tudor touched the ball down.

Jimmy Moore’s conversion from wide out was missed but the final curtain had yet to fall because there was another twist left.

In the wild, exuberant, celebrations that followed the Vale’s score the ball had inadvertently come into contact with referee Chadwick’s head.

The official took exception to such frivolity and announced that the game would restart with a Sale penalty from half way.

As the spectators on the East Terrace tried to fathom out what had gone on Mike Swetman lined up what would be, if successful, the match winning kick.

The silence was broken only when boot made contact with ball and all eyes were trained on its flight path but the trajectory was not accurate enough as the ball flew wide of its target and the clock indicated that seven minutes of extra time had been played.

News of Jimmy Moore’s retirement proved to be premature as the number ten announced his return in spectacular style by kicking six penalty goals and using his vast experience to guide the Vale to their second league draw of the season.

Kick off was delayed for 15 minutes because of problems on the M6 but Sale settled quickly with full back Scott Redfern kicking a penalty goal in the fifth minute.

However, the Vale were not going to be beaten easily because after Moore had slipped his way out of tackles and Sutcliffe had danced through the defenders the Vale were awarded a penalty which Moore kicked in the 10th minute.

Three minutes later Moore kicked another penalty from 40 metres after Andy Powers had played a huge part in thwarting a Sale counter attack.

Vale went further ahead on 22 minutes, Nick Royle came of his wing and Sale were penalised as bodies piled all over Royle when he was tackled, Moore added another three pointer to his account.

Phil Berry was shown a yellow card and after a long explanation from the referee to Wilson. Redfern was again off target with the resultant penalty and then Sale had prop Joe Kelly sin binned when he clattered into Moore after the stand off had delayed making the ball dead.

Wallbank snatched the ball from a line out to sprint 50 metres down the touchline, Redfern kicked a penalty in the 32nd minute but the Vale made most of the running in the closing minutes.

James Hodder almost broke through with a kick and catch, and when the Vale eight shunted their opposite numbers back they were awarded a penalty kicked by Moore in the 39th minute.

Powers charged a kick down as Sale were forced to chase the ball down in the dead ball area.

Within two minutes of the start of the second half Sale went into the lead after some poor Vale tackling was punished.

Winger Perry Alexander was given time and space to touch down behind the posts Redfern converting.

Even though they had made a sluggish start the Vale edged back into the lead in the 45th minute when Moore kicked a penalty from wide out on the right after another powerful charge from Sutcliffe.

Sale were quickly becoming the more dominant force as the Vale’s game began to slip from its previous high standards.

In the 56th minute centre Mike Swetman squirmed his way over in the left-hand corner for an unconverted try.

A third Sale try in the 67th minute scored by Kevin Penny appeared to have put the visitors in the comfort zone but a Moore penalty in the 70th minute threw the outcome into the melting pot again.

When Sutcliffe was shown a yellow card it looked ominous for the home side and few would have predicted the turmoil that was about to descend on the game before heartbeats returned to normal.