Walker proves the Cup talisman for Vale

Football Port Vale 4 Crystal Palace 3 (aet; score at 90 min 3-3)
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The Independent Online


Port Vale 4 Crystal Palace 3 (aet; score at 90 min 3-3)

Ray Walker, one of the goalscoring heroes of Port Vale's famous FA Cup victory over Tottenham eight years ago, emerged from the fog and mists of time to end Crystal Palace's interest in the competition for another year at Vale Park last night.

Vale's longest-serving player, who had earlier put his side ahead with his first goal of the season, doubled his tally with a magnificent turn and curling shot from 20 yards with nine minutes of extra time remaining in a pulsating third-round replay.

Defeat was harsh on Palace, one of last season's beaten semi-finalists, who fought back fiercely after falling 3-1 behind on the hour. Goals by two of their own substitutes, Ian Cox and Bruce Dyer, hauled them level and they dominated the additional period until Walker's coup de grace.

Vale will now visit the winners of tonight's replay between Everton, the holders, and Stockport. Walker, who had come on as a substitute in the opening minutes of the game, will be hard to leave on the bench after reasserting his credentials as a Cup talisman so dramatically.

John Rudge, the Vale manager, admitted that he feared his team would do well to hang on for a penalty shoot-out. "We looked comfortable with a two-goal cushion," he said. "But suddenly we were vulnerable and Palace worked for it. It took some magical individualism by Ray to get us through."

Walker initially fired Vale in front off a post in the 18th minute. Andy Porter's penalty, awarded for Marc Edworthy's foul on Martin Foyle, doubled the lead 10 minutes later.

Within two minutes, however, Palace were back in contention as Gareth Taylor headed only his second goal in 18 games since a pounds 1.8m move from Bristol Rovers.

Palace came strongly at the start of the second half, only for Foyle to head Vale into what seemed an unassailable lead from a cross by Steve Guppy.

Instead, an injection of pace put Vale's makeshift defence under intense pressure. Cox, with a 77th-minute header, and Dyer, lashing in the loose ball after a goal-line clearance by Andy Hill five minutes later, made it pay.

Paul Musselwhite, Vale's previously suspect keeper, denied Taylor what looked a certain goal 16 minutes into extra time. Even after Walker's winner, in the dying seconds Dyer headed over from close range.

Port Vale (4-4-2): Musselwhite; Porter, Hill, D Glover (Walker, 7), Tankard; McCarthy, Bogie, Talbot, Guppy ; Foyle, Naylor (Mills, 80). Substitute not used: Van Heusden (gk).

Crystal Palace (1-4-2-1-2): Martyn; Gale (Dyer, 62); Edworthy, Davies, Roberts, Gordon; Pitcher, Houghton; Freedman (Rodger, 105); Taylor, McKenzie (Cox, 69).

Referee: R Poulain (Huddersfield).