Perfect Foyle

Stoke City 0 Port Vale 1 Foyle 68 Attendance:20,429
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The Independent Online
DERBY games are matches apart, regardless of the circumstances that the combatants find themselves in. While this fixture did not promise much quality, given the relative proximity of the sides in the lower reaches of the First Division, there was a potent measure of intense local passion to compensate. For Port Vale, the result was an unfamiliar experience - no team bearing their badge had won a league game at the Victoria Ground since 1927.

A glancing header by Martin Foyle, Vale's record purchase and leading scorer with 18 goals, settled this episode of what Lou Macari, the Stoke manager, described as "our private north Staffordshire argument". A 20 -minute siege of the Vale goal followed before one half of the ground dispersed in noisy celebration. .

It was a raw afternoon, but there was a pleasantly old fashioned warmth to the atmosphere. In these all-seater days the vast standing terrace at the Boothen End presents quite an awesome throw-back, complemented perfectly by Stoke's strip, with traditional, unadulterated red and white stripes and baggy Stanley Matthews shorts.

It was a typically hot-blooded encounter, but the absence of a player on either side capable of sorting out the scramble in mid-field detracted from the spectacle. Vale responded more productively after half-time and within six minutes of the restart Tony Naylor had caused Ronnie Sinclair to make his first meaningful save in the Stoke goal.

The home side responded by replacing Martin Carruthers in their front line with John Gayle, the imposing former Wimbledon target man.

Ten minutes later, it was at the other end that the deadlock was broken. Steve Guppy, the former Wycombe and, briefly, Newcastle winger, emerged from his shell on the left to cross invitingly towards Naylor at the far post. Nigel Gleghorn interrupted at the expense of a corner and, from the resulting kick, taken by Guppy, Foyle's glancing header put Vale in front.

Stout defending did what was necessary to preserve Vale's advantage, although Stoke could count themselves unlucky when a shot from Paul Peschisolido struck the inside of a post and Gayle's follow-up bounced clear off Neil Aspin's legs. To make matters worse for Stoke, their defender Ian Cranson was sent off with five minutes left, for a second bookable offence.

The result means that Vale need no longer worry about relegation and provides ammunition for one side of the argument currently splitting the board at Vale Park, where it emerged that the chairman, Bill Bell, had tried unsuccessfully to convene a meeting to discuss the position of manager John Rudge.

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