Football / FA Cup Fourth Round: Yorke keeps Villa on course

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Grimsby Town. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Groves 58

Aston Villa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Houghton 13, Yorke 78

Attendance: 15,771

ASTON VILLA, evicted from the League Cup by Grimsby two years ago, suffered another scare yesterday before Dwight Yorke finally silenced the vibrant Mariners midway through the second half of an engrossing FA Cup tie at Blundell Park.

The Premiership side are fortunate indeed to creep into today's draw unencumbered by the need to replay, such was the quality of Alan Buckley's First Division hosts. 'We're very, very disappointed,' the Grimsby manager said. 'We played the better football.'

True; but despite a series of fluid attacks orchestrated by Paul Futcher, Humberside's answer to Franco Baresi, and Gary Childs, Grimsby's imprecision in the box cost them the tie and fuelled the belief of Villa's fans that Wembley is a growing possibility.

Villa's exceptional away record - now standing at two defeats in 21 games - is built on an ability to break fast, a vital cup tactic that brought the visitors the lead against the run of play after 13 minutes. Dalian Atkinson cut in from the left and, assisted by Peter Handyside's untimely slip, crossed low for the unmarked Ray Houghton to side-foot the easiest of goals.

Ten minutes later Villa's fans' voices - and those of the locals - were filled with invective against the referee, Ian Hemley, who dismissed Shaun Teale and Steve Livingstone for fighting after the Grimsby striker had angered the Villa stopper with a wild aerial challenge. 'I said 'book us and let's get on with the game',' Teale said afterwards. 'But don't ruin the game.'

Ron Atkinson immediately replaced Tony Daley with the defender Neil Cox - necessity ruling over nicety. Earl Barrett, moved into the middle to replace Teale, was lucky that only the officials in a crowd of 15,771 did not spot his push in the box on the continually threatening Clive Mendonca before half- time which could have brought Grimsby level.

The parity that justice demanded arrived on the hour when Childs crossed from the left towards Paul Groves. The danger seemed minimal, but he neatly lobbed Barrett before placing the ball to Mark Bosnich's right.

The underdog's tails were really up, but they could not find a way past the magnificent Paul McGrath. With so much committed to attack, gaps materialised at the back and Yorke, released by Atkinson 12 minutes from time, sped down the left before cutting in and firing a fine right-footed shot past Paul Crichton.

After the whistle, 100 Grimsby fans ran on to the pitch to taunt the Villa end. Coins were thrown and the situation was moving from the worrying to the ugly when six mounted policemen cantered out to restore order - an unhappy end to an excellent match.