Fast Dyer sets tone

Port Vale 0 Crystal Palace 2
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Crystal Palace, unbeaten since the season's opening weekend, swept into third place in the First Division at Burslem last night. Early goals by Bruce Dyer and Andy Roberts left Port Vale with a solitary win from seven home matches, while also avenging the Potteries side's FA Cup conquest in January.

How times have changed since Everton, the holders, followed Palace in being knocked off the Wembley trail at Vale Park. Only 4,522 spectators were scattered around the stadium, Vale's lowest League attendance since 1989. Afterwards, angry supporters gathered outside the main entrance to demand the resignation of the chairman, Bill Bell.

Valiantly though John Rudge's team battled, forcing Chris Day into several superb saves, they faced an uphill task after conceding two goals inside 15 minutes. If Paul Musselwhite, making his first start of the season, received scant protection on the first, he was embarrassingly culpable for the second.

With barely 100 seconds gone, and Vale already struggling to adjust to an unfamiliar defensive system, Palace worked the ball through to Dyer. Given time to weigh up the options, the striker powered an angled drive beyond the keeper from 12 yards.

The second goal owed much to the quick thinking of Palace's outstanding performer, David Hopkin. His free-kick, taken as Simon Rodger was still rising following a foul by Andy Porter, found Roberts lurking 25 yards out. The shot was less than ferocious, but Musselwhite, apparently believing the ball was going wide, let it bounce past him to bring up Palace's quarter- century of League goals.

Vale's retaliation was surprisingly spirited, their luck non- existent. When Day blocked Lee Mills's goalbound effort immediately after Roberts' goal, Stewart Talbot smacked the rebound against the bar from 20 yards. The contrast between the keepers was crucial, although Palace, with their superior mobility and pace, gave the impression of having plenty in reserve.

Port Vale (3-5-2): Musselwhite; Hill, Griffiths, Glover; McCarthy (Corden, 71), Walker, Porter, Talbot, Guppy; Mills (Foyle, 71) Naylor. Substitute not used: Tankard.

Crystal Palace (3-5-2): Day; Tuttle, Roberts, Quinn; Edworthy, Veart, Hopkin, Rodger (Trollope, 84), Muscat; Freedman, Dyer (McKenzie, 79). Substitute not used: Andersen.

Referee: P Richards (Preston).