Football: Vale denied by resurgent Richards
Port Vale 0 Wolves 2
Monday 29 December 1997
Dean Richards was outstanding in defence after his comeback from a long injury lay-off and earned fulsome praise from his manage, Mark McGhee. "Dean was excellent," he said. "He has had two outstanding games and to do that so soon speaks volumes for his ability.
Port Vale are now on their worst run since 1983 - this was their six consecutive loss but their manager John Rudge insisted: "We were the better team."
Vale's lively start made nonsense of recent form as they forced five corners in the opening four minutes. A header from the former Wolves striker Lee Mills was cleared off the line by Kevin Muscat in the second minute while Paul Simpson repeated the feat, this time denying Tony Naylor.
But atrocious conditions soon made quality football impossible with the players struggling to keep their feet.
Against the run of play the visitors took the lead in injury-time with their first serious attack. Muscat played a one-two with Mark Atkins before beating Paul Musselwhite with a fierce shot inside the near post.
Vale twice came close to an equaliser in the early stages of the second half when Wayne Corden's effort flicked the bar and then Mills muscled his way through but Richards got back to hack off the line.
The home side never gave up with a Corden cross bouncing on the bar and Andy Porter's shot skimming just wide, but Doug Freedman rolled in the second three minutes from time to secure the points for Wolves.
Goals: Muscat 45 (1-0); Freedman 87 (2-0).
Port Vale: Musselwhite, Talbot, Tankard, Bogie, Hill, Beesley, Ainsworth, Porter, Mills, Naylor (Foyle, 80), Corden (Jansson, 80). Substitute not used: Snijders.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Stowell, Muscat, Froggatt, Atkins, Richards, Curle, Goodman (Paatelainen, 40), Simpson, Keane (Robinson, h-t), Freedman, Osborn. Substitute not used: Daley.
Referee: P Taylor (Cheshunt).
Booked: Wolves: Paatelainen.
Man of the match: Richards.
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