A late Vale of Lune charge couldn’t prevent Birkenhead Park hanging onto their 100 per cent record on Saturday.
Prior to kick-off, things didn’t look good for the visitors who entered the game next to bottom with only one win to their name.
Things looked to be going according to the pre-match predictions as the game approached a lengthy spell of extra time due to an injury to Vale’s Wayne Blyth.
The Vale were trailing 29-12 with 13 minutes plus injury time remaining, the spoils heading very much in Park’s direction before suddenly everything started to turn.
The architect of Vale’s revival was Fergus Owens who once again showed what a high-class player he is.
In the 80th minute he shimmied his way past Park’s defenders at pace, before delivering a perfect pass to Billy Swarbrick who raced away for a thrilling try converted by Jack Turton.
Four minutes later Owens was at it again with another sinewy run, this time Andy Powers was the recipient of his endeavours, Turton again adding the extras to put the Vale within touching distance of a dramatic victory.
Unfortunately shortly after their final score the whistle blew on what had turned into a close-run affair, Vale having to settle for a try bonus point and a losing bonus, their first of the season as they moved up to 12th in North One West.
Vale had begun the game on a positive note, but Park weathered the early storm and were first on the board with an eighth-minute Dave Hall penalty goal.
The hosts began to build pressure and in the 15th minute they eventually pierced Vale’s defence as from a 10-metre line out lock Josh Smith forced his way over with Hall converting from wide out.
An uncharacteristic lazy kick out of Park’s defence was then seized on by Powers who quickly sent Owens streaking way for a try converted by Chris Ramwell as the first quarter drew to a close.
In the 33rd minute Park increased their lead when following a sequence of missed tackles skipper Jack Ashcroft romped his way over, Hall again adding the conversion.
Vale narrowed the gap in the 42nd minute with an unconverted Ben Dorrington try after Owens had again traumatised the home side’s defence.
Two minutes later came the lengthy stoppage with plenty of concern for Blyth as he picked up a severe cruciate ligament injury.
As the game regained momentum is was the hosts who began to stamp their authority on things around the hour mark, one surge ending in an unconverted try for hooker Stu Brown following a perfectly executed line out move.
A final Park try came in the 67th minute from Laurence Thomas who jigged his way over from a scrum. Hall adding the conversion which on paper appeared to put the hosts out of sight at 29-12.
But straight from the restart the Vale announced that the result was far from cut and dried, coming agonisingly close to an unlikely victory.
It wasn’t to be but despite the scoreline the cherry and whites will take plenty from this spirited effort as they look to climb up the table.