Vale put on a good cup performance against Hartlepool United as they cruised into the FA Cup third round draw.
Bruno Ribeiro made two changes bringing back Paulo Tavares and starting in-form forward Rigino Cicilia.
After a bright start, it was Cicilia who again proved his worth to the team with the opening goal after just twelve minutes. Paulo Tavares did well on the left flank to set up Cicilia to side foot confidently home. It was the big man’s fourth goal of the season.
Two minutes later Vale doubled their lead when Kiko’s cross appeared to be steered home by Alex Jones although it was officially credited as an own-goal. With just quarter of an hour of the game gone, Vale were cruising in what had been billed as their most important game of the season.
It got even better for the Valiants on the half-hour mark. There may have been a dispute over the scorer of the second goal but there was no mistake with the third as Alex Jones slotted home his tenth of the season. Good work from Ryan Taylor set up the goal.
Hartlepool’s problems were compounded when manager Craig Hignett was sent-off for protesting about a decision.
In the second-half, former Valiant Billy Paynter came on to a resounding ovation but on 56 minutes Vale were awarded a penalty when Smith was fouled in the box. Ryan Taylor stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to make it four to the Vale.
A few minutes later, Vale were able to give a debut to youngster James Gibbons who came on for Tavares with Ryan Taylor moving into midfield. Shortly afterwards, there was a lengthy break after what appeared to be a serious injury to Hartlepool defender Rob Jones. We wish him a speedy recovery.
The Valiants then brought on forgotten man Gezim Shalaj and he almost made an immediate impact with a shot that was inches wide. However, Vale could not add to their scoring as they played out a comprehensive cup victory.
It was described as the defining game of the season and all Vale fans will be delighted to see the team put on a pleasing display and a place in the third round.
Attendance: 3,514 (213 away)