We take a look at the back pages and their reaction to Vale’s battling defeat to Villa in the FA Cup.
News of the World: Milan Baros’ two-goal blast spared Villa more cup humiliation and fired them into the last 16 for the first time in six seasons. Villa had been dumped out of the Carling Cup 3-0 by Doncaster in November and for long periods there was the threat of gallant Vale causing a similar upset. The League One side were left to rue a glaring miss by striker Leon Constantine when the game was still goalless. The result flattered Villa, though O’Leary saw it differently. He said: “We totally controlled and dominated the whole game. It was important to keep going and break them down.”
Sunday Times: Kevin Phillps’ first contribution, after two months out with an ankle injury, was a feather-duster touch that floored a Port Vale side who were starting to entertain thoughts of pulling off one of the shocks of the fourth round.
The Observer: The last time the clubs met, at the exact same stage of the competition, was back in 1990 when Villa battered poor Vale 6-0. How times have changed. It could have been worse for Villa, as Port Vale gathered momentum and urgency and pressured the home goalmouth late in the second half. Lowndes reduced the deficit, converting Craig James’ free-kick. And Sean Doherty was left in acres of space to have a shot from close range. Port Vale fans had their hearts in their mouths but he fired just wide of the goal.
Sunday Telegraph: Victory looked safe as houses, but Port Vale, languishing in mid-table in League One, proved reluctant to surrender. Substitute Nathan Lowndes, with a looping header from a Craig James free-kick, ensured it would be a nerve-shredding finale for the Premiership hosts. Sean Doherty, another timely replacement brought on by Vale manager Martin Foyle, almost equalised with a fierce 15-yarder, but Steven Davis finally settled the issue in injury time with an opportunist flying header after Lee Hendrie’s miscued volley turned into the perfect pass.
Vale once reached the semi-finals, albeit 52 years ago, and the crowd of 68,000 saw them lose to West Bromwich Albion, the eventual winners. Far fewer turned out on a windswept, wintry afternoon to witness this potential giant killing. On the evidence of a lacklustre first half, the stay-at-homes among the Villa faithful had judged well as their side, while looking clearly the more composed in possession, rarely produced an incisive pass.||