Port Vale will be looking to further establish themselves in the promotion pack when they entertain Tranmere this weekend. Discussing issues on and off the pitch are our fans’ panel of Chris Bentley, from Norton Heights, Paul Dixon, from Burslem, and Tony Boulton, a local lad now living in Texas, USA.
WHAT’S YOUR TEAM?
CHRIS BENTLEY: “I think Mark Cullen is a natural goalscorer and we need to finish teams off with the chances we are creating so I feel he deserves a start alongside Pope.
“Harry McKirdy looked really sharp against Liverpool Under-21’s on Tuesday but it looks as though unfortunately he might be side-lined after picking up an injury in that game which could rule him out of contention.
“My team is Brown; Clark, Smith, Legge, Montano; Worall, Conlon, Joyce, Amoo; Cullen, Pope.
TONY BOULTON: “I am tempted to suggest that we should stick with a winning team and go with the players who beat Liverpool U21 on Tuesday. After all, we did score four goals for the first time in forever?
“But seriously, the starting 11 in League Two on Saturday is more likely to resemble that which lost to Kings Lynn, even though the outcome was shocking. Of those that played Tuesday, Montaño might help our shape, but Crookes has not done anything too wrong. So here’s what I think.
Brown, Clark, Legge, Smith, Montaño, Joyce, Conlon, Burgess, Amoo, Pope, Worrall.”
PAUL DIXON: “Brown, Clark, Smith, Legge, Montano, Worrall, Amoo, Conlon, Joyce, Oyeleke, Pope.”
WHAT’S YOUR PREDICTION?
CHRIS BENTLEY : “There are no easy games in this league and I expect a tough game against Tranmere but with added firepower up front, I’ll go for a 3-1 win with Pope, Cullen and Worrall on the scoresheet.”
TONY BOULTON: “Tranmere have had a couple of good results, beating Harrogate on the road and knocking League One Accrington out of the FA Cup. They did lose to Wigan in the Pizza Trophy, but that is probably about as much a measure as us beating a Liverpool team. I’ll go for 2-1 to the Vale.”
PAUL DIXON: “Vale to win 2-0. Conlon and Pope to net.”
ANY OTHER BUSINESS?
CHRIS BENTLEY: “I was disappointed but not entirely surprised by last Saturday’s defeat to King Lynn’s Town.
“The FA Cup has been a great competition for us over the years but compared with January’s fantastic trip to the Etihad to take on Man City in Round Three, playing in front of an empty Vale Park in Round One of this season’s competition must have seemed a million miles away for players and fans alike.
“I’m not defending the players as they are professionals and should want to win every game but I can’t help thinking that with fans in the ground and home support this would have been an entirely different outcome.
“That said, I welcome the fact that representatives from Vale and Stoke have joined forces with Stoke North MP Jonathan Gullis urging the government to reopen grounds when the latest lockdown ends on December 2.
“Carol, Kevin and everyone at Port Vale worked extremely hard to ensure the safe return of fans to Vale Park in October so it was a real kick in the teeth when that was knocked back.
“We have a 19,000 capacity stadium and an average home crowd of around 4,500 fans so why we haven’t been allowed in yet is beyond me, especially when other indoor venues have been letting people through the doors.
“No fans at Port Vale is not only killing the club but also the town and the Burslem community which relies on the extra revenue on matchdays, missing for almost a year now.
“Well done to both clubs for trying to push this forward as no matter which team we support we all love and miss going to the games.”
TONY BOULTON : “As one of the organisers of Super Vale Abroad, and a Vale fan since we were most famous for getting to the Semi Final of the FA Cup, I am really happy to be part of a group that is focused on encouraging the next generation of Valiants. At the same time, SVA has partnered with the Port Vale Foundation to help with their wonderful work in the community.
“Our Fans At The Game initiative has got off to a sound start, but we are hoping a lot of those fans who have applauded it, will commit to the £25 for a Valiant Cutout and support the Foundation’s work. If any fans have struggled with the app, want to enquire about sponsoring a legend, or find out how to upload a picture of a relative who has passed, email my SVA colleague Dave Thorley [email@example.com] for assistance.
“Some Potteries based fans have had a taste of iFollow this year, for the first time. They now know what it feels like to be unable to be there on matchday. We exiles feel their pain, especially when, once again, it comes to dealing with technology. It is now good to see that the club are stepping up, speaking to the EFL, and getting things sorted so that we can all continue to watch games live.”
PAUL DIXON : “Whilst I was disappointed with the FA Cup result, I don’t think it’s disastrous for us. “Yes the prize money would have been great but we came up against a great keeper and, with a host of missed chances, it was almost inevitable we fell to a sucker punch. Good luck to Kings Lynn Town, I hope they go on to do well at Portsmouth and in the league.
“Another cup tie followed with Liverpool u-21s and I can quite honestly say we could and should have scored eight.
“However it was great to see Manny Oyeleke, Cristian Montano and the really impressive Harry Mckirdy on the pitch who I’m sure will be looking to squeeze into the first eleven fitness allowing.
“I was also really impressed with Alex Hurst who put a great shift. He has a great work ethic along with pace and he also finished his goal well.
“Supporters are not too keen on the competition but it somewhat softened the blow with prize money being picked up and a home tie in the next round.
“Finally, it’s great to hear young fullback James Gibbons has begun his rehabilitation from his hamstring injury. He was desperately unlucky to suffer it as he was returning to top form and I do believe he will go to bigger and better things. Hopefully that will be with Port Vale, fingers crossed.”