Tankard raises cheers for Vale

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The Independent Online
Port Vale. .1

Huddersfield Town. .0

ALLEN TANKARD, the butt of Port Vale fans' frustrations lately, became the toast of blustering Burslem last night after ending Huddersfield's hopes of figuring in tonight's draw for the third round of the FA Cup with a stunning last- minute goal.

Huddersfield, reduced to 10 men for the final 17 minutes after the dismissal of Simon Trevitt, were within 55 seconds of a replay when Tankard, an pounds 87,500 summer signing from Wigan, struck. Meeting a Bernie Slaven cross with his left foot, the full-back's venomous drive from 18 yards hit the roof of the net before Steve Francis could react.

Tankard's first goal for the Potteries club ensured that John Rudge completed a decade in charge at Vale Park on a high note. The timing of the winner, allied to the fact that Huddersfield gave him his start in football 30 years ago, made it an evening to savour for Rudge.

He will not, however, remember the quality of the football with particular fondness. Driving rain and strong winds, which Huddersfield had at their backs during a first half which they shaded, meant it was never likely to be a classic.

A shot by Phil Starbuck which clipped the Vale woodwork in the 47th minute seemed to shock the Second Division promotion candidates into greater urgency. Francis clawed an Ian Taylor shot behind at full stretch, and also saved superbly from Neil Aspin's stinging drive.

Trevitt's exit, for a gale-force foul on John Jeffers after an early caution for up-ending the same player, handed Vale the initiative. Tankard grasped it gleefully, leaving his manager to raise a glass in his honour. 'If we pull out a big club, Allen will have paid off his fee at a stroke,' Rudge beamed.

Port Vale (4-4-2): Musselwhite; Aspin, Swan, Glover, Tankard; Kerr (Porter, 66), Van der Laan, Taylor, Jeffers; Foyle, Cross (Slaven, 70). Substitute not used: Wood (gk).

Huddersfield Town (4-3-3): Francis; Trevitt, Jackson, Hicks, Billy; Wells, Mitchell, Dyson; Rowe (Onuora, 72), Booth, Starbuck. Substitutes not used: Dunn, Blackwell (gk).

Referee: P Danson (Leicester).