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Football: ACE CHASE; The FA CUP e-on Five divisions apart but minnows earn replay as Vale fans turn on their team Port Vale 1 Chasetown 1.

TRAINEE accountant Mark Branch made sure the FA Cup cash keeps flowing in for tiny Chasetown and left Port Vale facing an angry backlash from their fans.

Branch's 40-yard free-kick sent 2,500 supporters of the British Gas Midland Division side delirious as Port Vale were embarrassed by a side five divisions below them in the league pyramid.

This was the equivalent of Manchester United facing Burton Albion in the competition last season and you could not tell there are 100 league places between Chasetown and Lee Sinnott's rockbottom League One outfit.

Chasetown were getting average gates of 80 a couple of seasons ago, but there will be temporary stands going up right now at their tiny Church Street ground for the replay in eight days time - with the prize of a home tie against Championship Cardiff City in the third round.

Charlie Blakemore's side have never made it to that stage of the competition, but he will be far more confident than Sinnott about the outcome of the replay.

Left-back Branch's effort two minutes from half-time cancelled out Luke Rogers' free-kick and cut Vale down to size. And Blakemore can smell blood for another 15 minutes of fame.

"I am going to water the pitch for a week and dig up the goal areas! But I am still pinching myself at what we have achieved," said Blakemore.

"We are five divisions below them, but we deserve another crack at them and Mark Branch is pure gold. You couldn't wish to meet a nicer lad and I am delighted for him and his family. I said to the players before the game that there were three scripts for the match. That we get hammered and everyone says well done Chasetown. That we give a good account of ourselves and get beat and everyone says well done.

"But I told them to rip those two up and go for the third and to make sure they get themselves a taste of the magic of the FA Cup and we have done that. We have put Chasetown on the national map."

Vale boss Sinnott was surrounded by angry fans at the final whistle as he made his players remain on the pitch and witness Chasetown's wild celebrations.

While the visitors partied with their supporters, a mob of Vale fans tried to break through a cordon of security to get at their own players, chanting "you're not fit to wear the shirt."

They were ugly scenes and although Sinnott would have preferred the fans to stay off the playing surface, he fully accepts the criticism for his side.

"I made them stay out there to see what it meant to Chasetown.

I wanted them to watch part-time players celebrating something that they deserved and that they had worked incredibly hard to achieve," said Sinnott.

CAPTION(S):

THRILL OF THE CHASE: Mark Branch (out of picture) fires home the Chasetown equalizer; SPECIAL BRANCH: Chasetown's scorer
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2007
Words:491
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