Port Vale boss Darren Moore blamed his relegation-threatened side’s dramatic 2-1 home defeat to Wycombe on a lack of concentration at the back.

Vale’s League One existence now hangs in the balance after a late Nigel Lonwijk strike means they are three points from safety with just two games left.

Wycombe took the lead in the fourth minute when David Wheeler was first to react after Connor Ripley had saved a close-range header from Sam Vokes.

Wanderers could have been two ahead just moments later as Wheeler again found himself free with just Ripley to beat, only to see his effort drift wide.

Vale’s only real effort of the first period fell to Ethan Chislett, whose long-range volley was spectacularly pushed over by Franco Ravizzoli in the Wycombe goal.

The home side began the second period brightly and were level just two minutes after the restart when Chislett slotted past Ravizzoli after finding himself in acres of space.

But with Vale pushing for that all-important winner in their battle to beat the drop, it was Lonwijk who popped up at the other end to win it for Wycombe and heap more misery on Moore’s men.

Moore said: “It was disappointing because you don’t want to lose a game in that manner.

“I really felt like we were in the ascendancy and if we kept our concentration we could get a chance to win the game, but we fell to a really late goal that absolutely knocked the stuffing out of the boys.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb after conceding that early goal and got back into the game early in the second half through Chislett to really give ourselves momentum and hope.

“I still felt that a chance was going to drop our way but what I didn’t envisage was our lapse of concentration at the back that has led to their goal.

“We’ve got two games remaining and we know what to do, we’ve got to dust ourselves down and get ready for another tough game on Saturday.”

Wycombe claimed a second consecutive away win.

Boss Matt Bloomfield said: “I’m disappointed we weren’t further ahead if I’m honest. We could have been three-up after 10 minutes and could and should have been out of sight.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game as Port Vale are fighting for their lives and have got some really good players, so to find an early goal and a late winner, I’m delighted.

“We needed to start the game on the front foot and the game plan was coming off and it wasn’t until the second half that they managed to break us down, but to find the character to go and get the winner was really pleasing.

“I stood on the touchline thinking this was a war of attrition and it was tough to get out at times, but we had fresh legs on the bench so I’m really pleased with the performance of the whole squad.”

Port Vale are right up against it as they battle to avoid relegation from League One following a 2-1 defeat to Wycombe at Vale Park.

Ethan Chislett cancelled out David Wheeler’s opener for the visitors before Nigel Lonwijk scored a late winner, leaving Darren Moore’s side three points from safety with two games of the season left.

Dale Taylor could have opened the scoring for Wycombe after just 40 seconds when he pounced on a defensive error and slid the ball wide from the edge of the area.

Wanderers were ahead just three minutes later, however, when Wheeler was in the right place to blast the ball home after Connor Ripley denied Sam Vokes.

The home side responded well after the early setback and would have been level in the ninth minute had Franco Ravizzoli not made a great save to push Chislett’s effort over the bar.

It was Vale who started brightest after the break and were level just two minutes into the second half when Chislett found himself in space before slotting the ball past Ravizzoli.

The closing stages saw Vale going all out for the win with Jensen Weir coming close on a couple of occasions before Lonwijk sealed victory for Wanderers with only four minutes remaining.

Des Buckingham was hungry for more goals despite efforts from Ciaron Brown and Josh Murphy earning Oxford a 2-0 win at Port Vale that moved them into the play-offs.

Brown’s 16th-minute strike lashed the U’s into the lead, before Murphy’s cross-shot nestled in the far corner to settle the scoring four minutes into the second half.

Billy Bodin had an early effort swept off the line and the visitors had two penalty shouts waved away, as they dominated proceedings throughout.

Oxford had chances late on to add gloss to the scoreline – Will Goodwin and Murphy fluffing their lines with the goal gaping. Baylee Dipepa came closest to a late consolation for Vale, firing into a crowd of bodies.

Speaking to BBC Radio Oxford, visiting boss Buckingham said: “Another three points to back up Saturday. We asked for a reaction but not an overreaction.

“We controlled the game for most of the game and it was an excellent performance and a fully deserved three points.

“If we’re being critical, we should score more. We’ve done enough to come away with the win. That’s the important thing.

“We changed the formation. We wanted to get at these and attack them. We needed to react from Tuesday’s defeat to Bolton. Game by game we’re seeing how important every game will be. We spoke about going on our own run of form. Six points out of the last nine is done now. All the players shone today.

“It’s important we got another three points and back in the play-off spots. We now have a 12-day international break to get ready for another couple of games and see how many points we can get from that.”

Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke, Port Vale boss Darren Moore said: “Two set-plays, two goals to concede which were very disappointing. That’s the most frustrating aspect of it. I thought we started the game really well.

“We had Oxford on the back foot but after quarter of an hour, the first goal seemed to rock us a bit. That gave them confidence and the ability to start stringing passes together. I needed to make a double substitution and that seemed to stem the tide a bit.

“The second goal gave us a mountain to climb. We huffed and puffed after that. We had a couple of half-chances but nothing fell to us in the box.

“You don’t want to lose games. I want to be open. I’m disappointed, the boys are disappointed. But I have to say to them, while the maths are still there, we have to keep going. We need to get ourselves up, dust ourselves down and be prepared for a real tough game at Burton next week.”

Oxford brushed aside Port Vale with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Vale Park.

Ciaron Brown lashed home and Josh Murphy whipped a left-footed effort past Connor Ripley as the U’s dominated throughout.

Murphy showed early glimpses of his quality down the left before playing in Billy Bodin. Vale’s Dan Jones on the line swept the effort clear.

After 16 minutes, Brown notched the visitors in front. The defender latched on to a loose ball and fired home from the edge of the six-yard box.

With Vale pinned in their own half, Ripley got two hands to Elliott Moore’s flick midway through the first half.

After 49 minutes, Murphy doubled Oxford’s advantage. He skipped inside on to his left foot and his cross-shot evaded everyone and nestled in the corner.

Owen Dale zipped an effort wide, and Murphy was sluggish in getting a shot away, as Oxford sought a third.

Baylee Dipepa was denied a consolation for the hosts when he turned a strike into a crowd of Oxford shirts.

Boss Michael Carrick has urged Middlesbrough to seize their chance after reaching the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Jonny Howson, Morgan Rogers and Matt Crooks eased them into the last four with a 3-0 win at Port Vale.

The Championship side reached a major domestic semi-final for the first time in 17 years, since losing to West Ham in the last four of the FA Cup in 2006.

An injury-hit Boro made light work of their League One hosts to avoid an upset and are the only EFL team left in the last four.

Carrick said: “Sometimes in your career there are times and you have to make the most of the opportunity when it comes your way.

“When the door opens you have to run through it and the boys certainly sprinted through it.

“We’re not stupid. We know whoever’s left in the draw probably wants to play us and see it as a chance to get to Wembley.

“It’s a hell of an opportunity. It’s about us and what we can achieve. You’re in a semi-final and it’s motivation and inspiration itself.

“It was a fantastic attitude and mentality. We’re decimated in terms of numbers in the squad but it’s part of the journey and we’re enjoying it.

“We’re in the semi-final and who would have thought it, it’s a great thing to look forward to. Who knows what will happen next, we’ll see who we get.”

Howson opened the scoring after 11 minutes when his 25-yard strike clipped Jason Lowe and looped in over Connor Ripley.

Vale, who demonstrated plenty of endeavour, tried to recover but fell further behind after 23 minutes when Sam Silvera crossed for Rogers to find the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Gavin Massey lifted Vale’s best chance over from close range and Crooks wrapped up the victory eight minutes into the second half, bullying his way through and finding the bottom corner.

The hosts lost Oliver Arblaster to a serious leg injury and boss Andy Crosby admitted they were second best.

He said: “We are trying to play in a way in our own league, with control and counter pressing but as soon as there was space on the transition you could see the difference between the players.

“They executed the finishes well, maybe got a bit of luck with the first which took a deflection over Connor but they deserved to win the game and hopefully they can progress in the semi-final.

“Ollie has a really bad gash around his knee, it’s gone right through to the bone and he’s gone to hospital. He has been so good for us and he’s our number one concern.”

Middlesbrough cruised into the Carabao Cup semi-finals after breezing past Port Vale 3-0.

Jonny Howson, Morgan Rogers and Matt Crooks fired the 2004 winners in to the last four with a comfortable win at Vale Park.

Boro had not made a major domestic semi-final since losing to West Ham in the last four of the FA Cup in 2006.

Vale’s big night – their first League Cup quarter-final – was ruined by the incisive and efficient visitors within 23 minutes.

Gavin Massey missed the hosts’ best chance but Boro boss Michael Carrick, a two-time winner with Manchester United, ultimately navigated a tricky tie with ease given their injury problems.

So depleted were the visitors that Carrick named four substitutes without a senior appearance, including 17-year-old Law McCabe, but it was the experienced Howson who fired them ahead after 11 minutes.

Boro had threatened through the middle and the midfielder was able to easily find space. With defenders giving him time, the 35-year-old needed no second invitation and his 25-yard shot clipped Jason Lowe to loop over Connor Ripley.

Missing 10 players due to injury and resting Rav van den Berg, with an eye on their bid to stay in touch with the Championship’s play-off pack, the visitors had a platform.

Ethan Chislett curled an early free kick over and plucky Vale – 15th in League One – had nothing to lose, only for a second Boro goal after 23 minutes to seal the game.

Again, it was a simple build up with Sam Silvera winning the ball on the right and he kept his composure to pick out Rogers on the edge of the box.

The former Manchester City forward was left completely unmarked to stroke a fine low finish into the corner – his fourth goal of the competition.

Yet, far from shrinking, Vale kept going and should have pulled a goal back three minutes later only for a stretching Massey to lift over from close range.

Boro should have been out of sight just before the break when Crooks shot over but it was just a warning as the midfielder struck eight minutes into the second half when he barged his way through and drilled into the bottom corner.

Worse was to follow for the hosts when Oliver Arblaster was carried off with a serious leg injury just before the hour.

It sucked the life out Vale and, from then, Boro were happy to see the game out and Ripley denied Calum Kavanagh a debut goal when the visitors threatened a late fourth.

Crewe boss Lee Bell was quick to disregard his side’s penalty misery after being dumped out of the Carabao Cup by local rivals Port Vale.

The visitors missed all four penalties as they crashed out in the second round with a 2-0 shoot-out defeat after a goalless draw in normal time at Vale Park.

Elliott Nevitt blasted over, Rio Adebisi hit the bar and Joel Tabiner missed from 12 yards while Chris Long saw his penalty saved by Connor Ripley.

Bell admitted: “It’s a real kick in the teeth to go out on penalties.

“Penalties are a bit of a lottery and tonight just wasn’t our night.

“The fans were fantastic and it’s just a shame we couldn’t get a goal for them.

“I’m so proud of the players and there’s so much to draw on. The players need to get over this quickly.

“It was important I delivered the message that I feel is right. We’re going in the right direction and we’re a transformed team compared to last year.

“I know what it means to the area this game, regardless that it’s a cup game and a stand is shut.

“I told the players that whatever happens tonight they needed to be clapped off this pitch and they did that.”

Vale got the bragging rights in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Thomas Sang failed with Vale’s third spot-kick after James Wilson and Oliver Arblaster had scored the first two.

Boss Andy Crosby said: “These games are never easy.

“It goes to show that you get the rewards when you prepare properly and we’ve been taking penalties on the training ground for the last week.

“We’ve gone through a lot of detail in case it went to penalties and when you do that there’s less luck involved.

“We changed ends for the home supporters and thank you to the fans because I thought the atmosphere was great. The fans helped us get over the line.”

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