Port Vale manager John Askey thought he was dreaming when his side scored against Manchester City before eventually going down to a 4-1 defeat in the FA Cup.
Tom Pope delighted around 8,000 travelling Vale fans when he cancelled out an Oleksandr Zinchenko strike at the Etihad Stadium, but the holders came through to win Saturday’s third-round tie 4-1.
Sergio Aguero, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Phil Foden also got on the scoresheet for City in a convincing win over the League Two side.
Askey said: “I thought they were fantastic, I’m really proud of them to come here and hold them for so long.
“We rode our luck a little bit at times but when that goal went in, you start to dream a little bit.
“I was disappointed in the three goals we conceded before the fourth because they were avoidable – two (awarded by) VAR and a deflected shot.
“But I couldn’t have asked for more. It has been a really proud day for myself and the football club.”
A lot of the build-up to the game had focused on Pope’s match-up with City defender John Stones.
Pope mocked Stones last summer, tweeting he would score 40 goals a season if he faced the defender every week, after a poor performance in an England international.
After the game City invited the Vale players into the home dressing room.
Askey said: “Manchester City couldn’t have treated us any better. They invited the players in after the game and they have had a bit of a laugh, especially about Popey and John Stones, as you can imagine.
“I was lucky enough to be invited in by Pep (Guardiola) for a glass of wine, which shows what a gentleman he is.”
Askey now hopes 34-year-old Pope, whose goal was a post-war record 109th for Vale, ensures his tweets are less controversial in future.
He said: “He might be on Twitter tonight. I hope he doesn’t get himself in trouble.
“I wish he didn’t do it because sometimes he can wind the opposition up but if he goes and does that you can’t argue.”
City boss Guardiola enjoyed playing host to lower division opposition.
He said: “It was a pleasure. It is nice for us to be a host for these clubs in League Two, who are struggling and can come here and play.
“Players meet with players and realise at the end we are the same. We play at a different level but in the end the dreams are the dreams.”
Guardiola, who made seven changes, was pleased with the final outcome.
Guardiola said: “We are in the next round after (playing) an incredible amount of games (in recent weeks).
“We played seriously. In the first half we struggled a little bit but the second half was much better. We created a lot of chances and in general the team was OK.”
Harwood-Bellis’ goal was a first in senior football for the 17-year-old defender but it was a fortunate deflection off a Stones shot.
Guardiola said: “It is a little bit of a weird goal, but in the end it was a goal.
“But the important thing is he played at a good level. Eric (Garcia) and Taylor, both are young and have played more than well.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.