Football: Arsenal let off the hook by Tankard

Port Vale 1 Arsenal 1 aet; Arsenal win 4-3 on pens

Arsenal last night earned a fourth-round FA Cup reunion with Paul Merson at Middlesbrough, but it was a desperately close thing. After being taken to extra time and a penalty shoot-out by Port Vale, and having missed the first through Lee Dixon, the visitors had to thank David Seaman for stopping Ian Bogie's spot-kick and Vale's Allen Tankard for blazing the final shot wildly over.

Wayne Corden, the only local-born player in the First Division stragglers' line-up, had stunned Arsenal by equalising with just six minutes of the additional half hour remaining. His goal, driven in from Gareth Ainsworth's cross, cancelled out Dennis Bergkamp's brilliantly chipped effort from 25 yards in the 100th minute.

Arsenal's victory came at a price, however. Ian Wright, acquainting himself with Burslem when he might have been with Benfica, limped off with a hamstring injury shortly after seeing Paul Musselwhite turn his shot on to a post 10 minutes from the end of normal time. Wright will be out for three weeks.

On the balance of play over two gruelling games, Arsenal just about deserved their success. Vale, lacking confidence after seven consecutive League defeats, had been all too content merely to hold their illustrious visitors and hope to steal something on the break.

John Rudge had opted to play the diminutive Tony Naylor as a lone striker against Steve Bould and Martin Keown, so it was hardly surprising that the better chances initially went to Arsenal. From an eighth-minute corner by Stephen Hughes, Ray Parlour saw his header cleared off the line by Stewart Talbot. Bergkamp then unleashed a long-range free-kick, but Musselwhite made a fine diving catch.

Another effort by Parlour, a shot which Musselwhite scrambled behind, appeared to confirm Arsenal's growing ascendancy. Instead, Vale should have gone ahead after 35 minutes. Andy Hill's rampaging run, fed by Ainsworth, ended with the full-back finding Naylor 10 yards out. Skipping past Dixon, the striker contrived to fire wide.

Vale promptly forced their first corner. When it was cleared, Bergkamp released Marc Overmars to run at a stretched defence. The winger's shot beat Musselwhite only to strike the inside of one post, roll along the line and pass the other.

The pitch gradually cut up, though it was a far cry from the quagmire on which Vale beat Spurs 10 years ago. Early in the second half, Bergkamp again sent Overmars scampering away. The resultant cross evaded a strangely subdued Wright and Vale breathed again.

After surviving some late scares, Vale threw on Lee Mills, and were holding their own in extra time until Bergkamp intervened. The Dutchman's first goal since mid-November was another masterpiece to add to an already impressive collection.

Vale's spirited retaliation belied their recent travails. They earned a chance to emulate Bolton, Millwall, Sheffield United and Leeds over the past four years by ending Arsenal's interest in the competition early. But Seaman stood firm, and Tankard's cup of despair overflowed.

Port Vale (4-4-1-1): Musselwhite; Hill, Aspin, Snijders, Tankard; Ainsworth, Bogie, Porter, Corden; Talbot (Foyle, 101); Naylor (Mills, 87). Substitutes not used: Glover, Stokes, Van Heusden (gk).

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Keown, Bould, Winterburn; Parlour, Vieira (Grimandi, 75), Hughes, Overmars (Boa Morte, 90); Bergkamp, Wright (Anelka, 85). Substitutes not used: Upson, Manninger (gk).

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe).

News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine