Port Vale 0 Arsenal 0 (aet, 3-4 on pens)
Arsenal clawed their way into the FA Cup fourth round after a sensational penalty shoot out victory at Vale Park.
And it was a vale of tears for Allen Tankard, who blasted the critical penalty
over the bar to send the Gunners through to a clash with Middlesbrough in the
next round and a meeting with their former star Paul Merson.
Arsenal had to thank England goalkeeper David Seaman, who saved from Ian Bogie
in the shoot out to set up the victory chance.
Lee Dixon had seen Paul Musselwhite save the first spot kick, and then Andy
Porter and Gareth Ainsworth scored for Vale, while Ray Parlour and Dennis
Bergkamp netted for Arsenal.
Then came Bogie's miss, before Luis Boa Morte and Mark Snijders both netted
Stephen Hughes did likewise before Tankard stepped up to crash his effort over
the bar and send the Gunners through.
A breathtaking extra-time goal from Dennis Bergkamp looked to have finallykilled Vale off.
But eight minutes from the end of the extra period, 22-year-old
Wayne Corden struck the equaliser to force the tie into a penalty shoot-out.
It was no more than Vale had deserved. Arsenal were confronted with a side who
lived up to their famed giant killing past.
Almost exactly ten years ago Spurs had perished here and Derby and Everton
have gone the same way.
And for a side who had lost their last seven league games - their worst run
since the 1950s - Vale played with heart and passion.
They gave everything. After just five minutes Tony Naylor superbly turned
Steve Bould and should have taken the chance to run on into the box for a shot,
but wasted the opportunity by turning back into covering defenders.
The Gunners almost took the lead after eight minutes when from Stephen Hughes'
corner, Ray Parlour headed goalwards and Wayne Corden had to clear off the
Dennis Bergkamp was next to threaten when he was brought down on the edge ofthe box by Stewart Talbot.
From the free kick, the Dutchman bent the ball around
the wall and brought a fine save on the post from Paul Musselwhite.
Marc Overmars powered a shot into the side netting after a Bergkamp short
corner routine caused havoc with Parlour having a diving header blocked before
the ball broke to the Dutch winger.
Parlour found space on the right, and after one surging run, crashed in a
drive that Musselwhite fumbled alarmingly inches wide of thepost.
Vale hit back when veteran Alan Hill powered through on the right, found
Naylor on the penalty spot, but the striker shot wide from a glorious opening
under pressure from Dixon.
Overmars produced an astonishing miss after 38 minutes when he raced 30 yards,
struck a low shot against the foot of the far post and watched in disbelief as
the ball rolled along the line, grazed the other upright andslipped away to
Vale, though, had another glittering chance of their own on 44 minutes when
Corden crossed from the left, Naylor flicked the ball on and Ainsworth somehow
managed to lift the ball over the bar from six yards.
Bergkamp responded instantly with a 20-yard drive at the other end that
Bergkamp always looked the most likely to unhinge Vale's defence, and he set
up Overmars for a left wing run and cross shot that flashed across the goal at
the beginning of the second half.
Arsenal were intent on finishing it early, and Stephen Hughes saw a blistering
drive blocked by Hill.
But Vale were capable of creating chances of their own, and Ainsworth should
have done better with a far post volley after Tankard's long cross from the left
reached him unmarked.
Wright saw a header that beat Musselwhite disallowed for offside, and then
watched in anguish as a flicked header was pushed onto the post and behind by
The Vale goalkeeper was able to produce wonder saves, like he did from a Steve
Bould header, and then frighten the life out of his defence with errors like the
one when he fumbled a Hughes drive wide of the post.
Wright should have scored after 71 minutes when he was put clear by Overmars,
but crashed his shot over the angle from 15 yards.
Vale were not going to give this up without a fight, and at the other
end Naylor cracked a shot into the side netting from Talbot's chest down.
Wright's night of despair was completed with five minutes to go when
hecrumpled after a challenge by Aspin and was taken off with a knee injury.
Before extra time, Arsenal also substituted Patrick Vieira, and then before
the extra period started, Luis Boa Morte replaced Overmars.
And the newcomer almost created a goal in the 96th minute when he was putawaydown the left and fired in a cross that was met powerfully by Bergkamp.
The Dutchman nodded the ball goalwards only for Tankard to hurl himself into the post in the
act of heading the effort off the line.
Bergkamp, by far the best player on the pitch, finally broke the deadlock with
a superb 100th minute chip from 20 yards that left Musselwhite floundering.
Martin Keown and Gilles Grimandi had created the opening.
But Vale refused to lie down and in the 112th minute they were level when
Ainsworth drove over a cross from the right, and Corden crashed a right-foot
drive past Seaman for the equaliser.
Port Vale: Musselwhite, Hill, Tankard, Bogie, Aspin, Snijders,
Ainsworth, Porter, Talbot (Foyle 101), Naylor (Mills 87), Corden.
Subs Not Used: Van Heusden, Glover, Stokes.
Goals: Corden 112.
Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Vieira (Grimandi 75), Bould,
Wright (Anelka 84), Bergkamp, Overmars (Boa Morte 90), Keown,
Subs Not Used: Manninger, Upson.
Goals: Bergkamp 100.
Arsenal won 4-3 on Penalties
Ref: N S Barry (Scunthorpe).