Chris Robertson’s goal was in vain as Brighton defeated Port Vale to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Micky Adams somewhat surprisingly named Rob Taylor in his starting line-up with Taylor taking the left-back slot and Doug Loft moving into midfield. Gavin Tomlin returned to partner Tom Pope upfront. As expected, Brighton named a much-changed cup side.
There was a torrential thunder and hail storm prior to the game which resulted in muddy, windy and slippy conditions – an ideal cup surface, some may argue.
Brighton showed their class from the start and took the lead when Rohan Ince roamed unmarked on the edge of the box and he drove the ball into the back of the net on 27 minutes.
But that goal spurred Vale into action and Chris Robertson (who had been predicted to score some ten seconds earlier by the OVF editor) equalised from a corner on 36 minutes.
But Brighton backed by a noisy contingent of away fans stretched their lead – again from a corner – when Solly March‘s cross-cum-shot hit the net. It seemed to be a rare error from the normally impressive Chris Neal.
Vale looked to then have good claims for a penalty waved away before the half drew due to a close.
The Valiants then brought Adam Yates on for Taylor during the interval but despite sporadic Vale attacks, the home side were grateful to Neal for a number of fine saves as the visitors looked to stretch their lead.
However, calamity struck on 78 minutes when another Vale defensive mix-up alllowed Jonathan Obika to round Neal and score into an empty net.
Vale brought on Hugill and Williamson and Hugill did force one goalmouth scramble but the truth was that the visitors deserved this win. Credit is due to the thousand-plus Brighton fans who made the long trip to the Potteries and who also serenaded their former manager with a chorus of “There’s only one Micky Adams.”
In the muddy and difficult conditions, Anthony Griffith was a deserved sponsors’ man of the match for an all-action display but Chris Neal deserves credit for a string of saves, as did Chris Lines who showed some sublime midfield skills on occasion, especially with one surging first-half run, while the impressive Jack Grimmer showed pace, power and skill on the right flank.
But it’s all over in the cup this season for the Valiants who must now concentrate on the league when Crawley visit on Tuesday evening.
Vale: Neal, Grimmer, Davis, Robertson, Taylor (Yates), Myrie-Williams (Williamson), Griffith, Lines, Loft, Tomlin (Hugill), Pope
Subs: Johnson, Shuker, Birchall, Dodds