Taylor Harwood-Bellis

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Port Vale striker Pope got cold shoulder from Stones

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Following Manchester City’s 4-1 victory over League Two side Port Vale on Saturday, the City players invited their opponents into the locker room.

The move was a kind gesture of friendship after a hard-fought match given the gulf between the two sides, but Port Vale striker Tom Pope, who scored his side’s only goal in the match, revealed not all his interactions were cordial, including one relatively cold one.

Pope wrote on Twitter last summer about Stones, “Just watched the highlights of the England game! I know I’m a league 2 player, I know he plays for England, I know he’s on £150k a week, I know he’s a million times better player than me but I’d love to play against John Stones every week! I’d get 40 a season! #soft

That came to the forefront when Pope scored to level the match in the first half, a fabulously flicked header with his body tracking away from goal. He wasn’t directly matched up with Stones – it was actually Man City youngster Taylor Harwood-Bellis he beat on the play – but the moment was enough to send fans into a frenzy about Pope’s comments months earlier.

When asked about any potential interaction between the two in the locker room after the match, Pope confirmed his counterpart still harbors hard feelings about it all. “They all dragged me in, the Man City players, but John wouldn’t speak to me,” the 34-year-old said. “It was a little bit awkward. I shook his hand but he wasn’t too happy.”

And if you weren’t sure Pope was joking about his 40-goal comment from the summer, he’s doubled down after the match, just to pile it on.

“It was only banter and people have dug it up because we’ve drawn Man City,” Pope said after the match. “All of a sudden it’s everywhere and people have been on my case about it. He’s a world-class centre-half. I was just saying he wasn’t very physical and that’s it. If people think I’m wrong, well, I don’t care. I spoke to [Benjamin] Mendy and he said all their players had battered him for weeks about it and they got him that wound up about it, and then obviously I’ve scored and he’s probably devastated.”

Mendy, a known prankster, apparently waited for Pope after the match to take a selfie for their group chat, which Pope joked on Twitter was the “highlight of my day.”

FA Cup: Wolves and Man United draw as Man City, Leicester advance

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Premier League clubs like Aston Villa and Brighton Hove & Albion were dumped out of the FA Cup earlier in the day, but top flight sides had no troubles in the late slate as Manchester City, Bournemouth, and Leicester City all progressed to the fourth round of the competition, while Manchester United and Wolverhampton slogged through a scoreless draw that will require a replay at Old Trafford to decide.

[ FA CUP: Villa & Brighton fall | Newcastle held ]

Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers both had a few chances, but produced an otherwise cagey match at Monlieux in a 0-0 draw. Sergio Romero made his presence known with a fabulous reflex save on Matt Doherty on an effort that seemed to wrong-foot the Argentina goalkeeper, but he poked out his right hand to palm away the shot. Manchester United had a penalty shout, but Leander Dendoncker‘s tackle of Brandon Williams was waved off by both the on-field referee and by VAR despite replay showing some dubious contact.

Both teams had big chances in the second half. Manchester United nearly went in front with 20 minutes to go but substitute Marcus Rashford‘s effort was blocked by Connor Coady and while the looping deflection got over John Ruddy, it clanged harmlessly away off the crossbar. In the 77th minute Ruben Neves off the bench headed into the back of the net but was correctly ruled out as the effort came first off his head then his arm. Raul Jimenez then hit the post from an incredibly tight angle with nine minutes to go.

[ FA CUP: Norwich cruises | Burnley rolls ]

Manchester City survived a slight scare to top Port Vale 4-1. The defending Premier League champs scored first, with Oleksandr Zinchenko firing in via a huge deflection off Leon Legge that helped an otherwise speculative long-range effort. Despite the sudden ejection of life for the visitors at the Etihad, Sergio Aguero restored the lead with a tap-in at the far post, and Phil Foden‘s work in the build-up survived a VAR review.

17-year-old Taylor Harwood-Bellis put Man City 3-1 up in the 58th minute that also passed a VAR check, and Foden was the man to cap off the scoreline with City’s fourth goal.

[ FA CUP: Watford gacks 3-0 lead to Tranmere ]

Leicester City benefitted from a weird early own-goal to take the lead on Wigan Athletic, and that provided the springboard for a 2-0 win as Harvey Barnes found the back of the net for some breathing room before halftime. Wigan’s Tom Pearce somehow bungled in a Marc Albrighton cross with what looked like a striker’s finish to put Leicester City 1-0 up 19 minutes in. Barnes doubled the lead before halftime on the counter thanks again to a deflection, this time off Cheyenne Dunkley.

Philip Billing volleyed home a whipped Diego Rico cross to give the Cherries the early lead eight minutes in, and they finished with a storming 4-0 victory after it was all said and done. Callum Wilson put the game away on 67 minutes after a Luton defensive mistake as the hosts had no issues at Dean Court, with Billing grabbing a second and Dominic Solanke putting the cherry on top.

In an all-League One matchup, Portsmouth got a pair of goals from James Bolton and Marcus Myers-Harness in a five-minute span to down Fleetwood Town 2-1 on the road.