A dramatic FA Cup tie against Plymouth ended in Vale’s favour as Jennison Myrie-Williams capped a Vale second-half comeback.
But there was even more drama on and off the pitch as Joe Davis was forced to miss the game, Chris Lines was sent-off and Chris Neal made a penalty save.
Prior to the game, Vale had to issue the embarrassing news that due to an “administrative error” Joe Davis was not eligible and therefore the Valiants could only name six subs.
Following the farce over missing the deadline for registering Lee Hughes’ and Jed Wallace’s loan deals in November 2012, it was another embarrassment for Vale’s backroom staff. One bad error is bad enough but two? Surely this time, heads should roll?
The matter of Davis’ eligibility had been discussed on the OVF forum and fans had urged the club to check Davis’ situation with the FA. To leave until just before the game, when the squad of 18 had already traveled smacked of amateurism and complacency.
And it didn’t get any better for Vale once the match started as Plymouth immediately took the lead when awful defending allowed the unmarked Gurrieri to score after just 94 seconds.
Vale, who in Davis’ absence were pairing Robertson and Dickinson in central defence, were understandably looking shaky but they equalised on the half-hour mark when youngster Hugill netted his third senior Vale goal.
But Plymouth took the lead again when captain Hourihane exposed more defensive errors and put the home side into a frankly deserved 2-1 lead. Vale had a chance to equalise through Pope but frankly the home side had done more than enough to take a 2-1 interval lead.
The Valiants started the second-half more brightly with Hugill and Myrie-Williams going close.
An injury to Griffith prompted a shake-up of the Vale side with Shuker and Williamson coming on and Griffith and somewhat surprisingly goalscorer Hugill taken off. But the change paid dividends when Williamson netted the equaliser from Myrie-Williams’ pass.
And the comeback appeared to be complete when Myrie-Williams netted his ninth of the season to put Vale ahead for the first time in the game. The dramatic game then took another twist as Plymouth won a penalty. Lines received a red card for his challenge but Chris Neal produced a fine save to keep Vale 3-2 ahead.
Vale’s ten men had to endure some scary moments but they hung on to record a memorable win and a place in the fourth round.
Vale: Neal, Yates, Robertson, Dickinson, Loft, Myrie-Williams (Birchall), Griffith (Shuker), Lines, Dodds, Hugill (Williamson), Pope
Subs: Johnson, O’Neill, Lloyd
Attendance: 6,474 (132 visitors)