Port Vale supporters outsing the famous Kop as the team match the mighty Reds.
Match details: Liverpool 2-2 Port Vale, Carling Cup 3rd Round, October 29th, 1991
How Port Vale took on Liverpool at their own Game – Staffordshire Sentinel (Chris Harper reporting)
Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Harkness, Burrows, Hysen, Molby (sub Marsh 62), Tanner, Saunders, McMahon, McManaman (sub Rosenthal 80), Rush, Walters
Port Vale: Grew, Mills, Hughes, Porter, Aspin, Glover, Jalink, van der Laan (sub Kidd 74), Swan, Foyle, Jeffers
Port Vale had the effrontery to take on Liverpool at their own game last night and came up with a cracking performance to mark their first appearance in the third round of the Rumbelows Cup.
Once ahead and once behind when they may have buckled, Vale hit back to earn at least another handsome pay night in the replay.
The manner of the achievement delighted manager John Rudge who said: “We try to play the Liverpool way so it was nice to get a result against them by playing good football.
“It was a magnificent performance. We matched them most of the way and there were not many times when we were hot under the collar.
“The only real time, I felt, was in the spell leading to their second goal. We lost it for 10 minutes or so but kept chipping away to score a deserved equaliser.”
Chairman Bill Bell took champagne into the dressing room on what was also a memorable night for the vociferous 7000 following – the biggest away support at Anfield this season.
Rudge said: “It was a night on which to be proud to be a Port Vale supporter and I am proud to be the manager.”
Much has been made of Liverpool’s catalogue of injuries and their cause was not helped when Ray Houghton pulled out with back trouble but Vale had problems of their own.
Peter Swan, Robin van der Laan and Andy Porter all scraped through fitness tests before rising to the occasion.
Rudge admitted: “Swan was nowhere near fit, but he was prepared to grin and bear it. He has probably made his ankle worse but I thought he was brilliant. Hi height was always going to be valuable as I felt Liverpool could be vulnerable at set pieces.”
It took Vale just seven minutes to prove the point. Following their first corner kick by Simon Mills, van der Laan directed a header into the gap between Harkness and Grobbelaar.
Van der Laan, watched by his parents who had made the trip from Holland for the big game typified Vale’s determination in shrugging off a thigh strain until he had to be replaced in the closing stages by young Ryan Kidd.
Yet Vale’s joy was shortlived for within three minutes Liverpool were level. Rush found space to cross to the far post where Walters volleyed the return for McManaman to ram the ball home.
Grew saved from Rush but Vale refused to allow Liverpool to establish any lasting rhythm with Foyle, Swan, Glover and van der Laan all bringing Grobbelaar into action.
Liverpool, unable to settle, looked distinctly uncomfortable at times with Grobbelaar flapping at crosses as Vale forced four corners in quick succession leading up to the break.
Vale hit their sticky spell on the resumption when Grew saved from Saunders and was grateful to watch a flying header from Rush sail over the crossbar.
Neither McMahon nor the immobile Molby was particularly effective in the home engine room so the Dane made way for Mike Marsh who quickly made a telling contribution.
It was Marsh’s inswinging corner kick on 65 minutes that led to Vale’s downfall. The ball was flicked on by McManaman for Rush to net with his head from close range.
With Liverpool finally in front the Kop, previously outshouted, finally found its voice – but not for long.
Vale again dug deep into their considerable resources to conjure an equaliser with 17 minutes left.
Hysen looked anxiously at the referee following enthusiastic shouts from the packed Vale end for handball, but the reprieve was momentary.
Foyle and Hughes combined to feed Jeffers who evaded a tackle and hit a cross to the far post where Swan knocked the ball inside for Foyle to gleefully sweep home.
Rush was the chief threat to a Vale defence that played with much composure and the Welsh international sent a free header wise as another cross came in from the left.
His partner Saunders was kept at arm’s length by the excellence of Vale’s skipper Dean Glover and Vale safely negotiated the final stages to earn their prize of a replay and at least a place in Saturday’s draw.
Quotes from the Staffordshire Sentinel
John Jeffers – “We were never overawed but the fans drove us on when other teams may have buckled. They were magnificent.”
Martin Foyle – “That’s three times I’ve played at Anfield and I’ve yet to finish on a losing team.”
Dean Glover – “We were the underdogs but we battled well enough to earn a draw.”
John Rudge – “The fans were magnificent and to outsing the Kop is an achievement in itself.”