Lightbourne to Stoke's rescue

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A potteries derby thick with accents which owe more to Scandinavia than to the Six Towns finished with parochial pride grudgingly satisfied yesterday. Despite the absence of a single local-born player, Port Vale and Stoke City contrived a contest bristling with conflict, controversy and flashes of quality that deserved a setting higher than the Second Division.

A potteries derby thick with accents which owe more to Scandinavia than to the Six Towns finished with parochial pride grudgingly satisfied yesterday. Despite the absence of a single local-born player, Port Vale and Stoke City contrived a contest bristling with conflict, controversy and flashes of quality that deserved a setting higher than the Second Division.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, a free-transfer from Derby, put Vale in front early on with a downward header from Matty Carragher's cross. The home faithful among the lowest crowd in the 80-year history of League meetings between the clubs - less than 9,000 - were allowed little gloating time before Kyle Lightbourne fired Stoke level after Graham Kavanagh's corner created the chance.

Stoke, whose 16 on duty included three Icelanders, a Swede and a Dane, twice hit the bar through Lightbourne and Marvin Robinson. The former claimed that his header had crossed the line; so much for the Stoke manager, Gudjon Thordarson's theory that Sunday is a lucky day for Icelanders.

A point apiece was arguably the fairest outcome, however. Vale showed fierce commitment, epitomised by the rugged Finnish target-man Ville Viljanen. But while honours ended even, there was a doubt whether the sides should have done likewise. Midway through the first half, the Vale forward Tony Naylor appeared to strike out at Stoke's record signing, Brynjar Gunnarsson. Naylor was booked, but Thordarson, who felt that the key decisions went against his team, insisted the card ought to have been red.

Naylor went on to provide some delightful flicks, though it was Bridge-Wilkinson who posed more menace with his shoot-on-sight policy. Vale's other threat came from Michael Walsh's long throws, one of which led to Dave Brammer's volley being headed off the line by Nicky Mohan on 77 minutes.

The Stoke manager's son, Bjarni Gudjonsson, troubled Vale along the right flank, only for the woodwork, and agile goalkeeping by Mark Goodlad, to deny the visitors. As for Vale, where Brian Horton has negligible funds to work with, the decision to allocate only 4,500 tickets to their rivals backfired.

Goals: Bridge-Wilkinson (11) 1-0; Lightbourne (15) 1-1.

Port Vale (4-4-2): Goodlad; Carragher (Cummins, 90), Walsh, Burton (Burns, 59), Tankard (Twiss, 65); Beresford, Brammer, Bridge-Wilkinson, Widdrington; Naylor, Viljanen. Substitutes not used: O'Callaghan, Delaney (gk).

Stoke City (4-4-2): Ward; Hansson, Gunnarsson, Mohan, Dorigo; Gudjonsson, Kavanagh, O'Connor, Thordarson (Clarke, 86); Lightbourne (Thorne, 71), Robinson. Substitutes not used: Risom, Thomas, Muggleton (gk).

Referee: W Burns (Scarborough).

Bookings: Port Vale: Naylor, Brammer. Stoke: Kavanagh, Robinson, Mohan.

Man of the Match: Naylor.

Attendance: 8,948.

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