Port Vale are hoping to climb into the play-off places with a result at home to Scunthorpe this weekend. Discussing all things Vale are our fans panel of Paul Dixon, from Burslem, Chris Bentley, from Norton Heights, and Ian Woodward, from Congleton……
WHAT’S YOUR TEAM?
Paul Dixon: Brown, Gibbons, Smith, Legge, Montano, Worrall Joyce, Conlon, Burgess, Amoo, Cullen
Chris Bentley : With Shaun Brisley injured, it means a return for Nathan Smith at the heart of the defence and a recall for James Gibbons at right back.
I’ll go with; Brown; Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montano; Conlon, Joyce, Burgess, Worrall; Amoo, Cullen.
Ian Woodward : Shaun Brisley’s absence following the knee injury he sustained last weekend, whilst unfortunate and untimely – as he has certainly impressed since coming into the side – does at least avoid the dilemma of whether to retain or change the back four. So it’s just two changes for me, with recalls for James Gibbons at right back and also David Amoo who offers more threat, particularly on home turf.
Therefore my team is: Brown, Gibbons, Legge, Smith, Montano, Burgess, Joyce, Conlon, Worrall, Cullen, Amoo.
WHAT’S YOUR PREDICTION?
Paul Dixon: Vale to continue their fine home form with a 2-0 win.
Chris Bentley : Every game is a cup final now. I think we’ll edge this one 2-1 with goals from Worrall and Cullen.
Ian Woodward: “We should certainly have more desire to win than our opponents whose season is effectively over as they are 16 points clear of the drop and 17 points off a play-off spot. However, as we know, there’s always a potential banana skin around the corner, particularly when things are going well and expectation is high.
For those of us scarred from too many years watching the Vale, one look at the stats reveal we’ve only beaten them once in our past eleven league encounters, that being 3-1 at Vale Park back in 2016, Nathan Smith being the sole survivor from our team that day.
If we’re on our game I’ll go with 3-1 again- to the Vale.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Paul Dixon : It was sad to hear Shaun Brisley is to be missing for five or six weeks with a knee injury sustained at Walsall. He was proving to be a canny signing and to be keeping Nathan Smith out of centre back speaks volumes for him.
I expect Smith to be back at centre half, after struggling somewhat last week at right back, and the excellent James Gibbons to slot in at full back.
What a superb following of 2,307 there was at Walsall last week. We are gaining momentum with “stay away” fans coming back to home games and also a big increase in away followings. Long may it continue as the club now has an offer on for the Crawley and Bradford home games. I hope many fans take advantage to cheer on the lads.
Finally, it was great to hear the early bird season ticket sales have doubled from this time last season.
The club is listening to the fans and, when both are pulling in the same direction, I believe we can become a force again very soon.
Chris Bentley: This time last year we are battling to stay in the Football League. Now we are pushing for the play-offs and talking about a concert and possible kit deal with one of the biggest pop stars in the world!’
“Yes, this is the same Port Vale we’re talking about but our inner core has been transformed. I think the work that the owners and management team have done in such a relatively short space of time is reflected by our upward momentum on the pitch.
“We have an excellent chance of making the play offs and, if we don’t, we long suffering fans now have sincere hope for the future.
“It was lovely to hear John Rudge echoing this with his words this week. Our greatest manager ever has seen and done it all, and recognises something special happening at the club, with the owners and management we now have. Up the Vale.”
Ian Woodward: Back in August I commented that fitness, good organisation, team spirit and a bit of luck can go a long way at this level and the Vale could end up surprising a few people this season. Well I think whatever happens in these next couple of months we’ve certainly done that and if we do end up falling just short at the final reckoning, we can definitely say the club is back on an even keel and once more heading in the right direction.
Having recently returned from a holiday in South Africa, I had an interesting conversation with two West Ham United fans and, whilst my comments regarding the Vale were distinctly upbeat, what they had to say about their club struck a chord.
They loved Upton Park, had been season ticket holders for more years than they could remember but the club’s move to their new stadium hadn’t been popular with the fans at all. Nevertheless, they continued to follow their team at its new home, endured the clear architectural flaws, hassle with traffic and toxic atmosphere for so long until they called it a day. Whereas Upton Park felt part of their soul and the local community, the former Olympic Stadium simply doesn’t. But more disconcertingly he felt the club owners held a contemptuous attitude towards its supporters , they were simply never prepared to listen, it was all about the money.
The move was going to happen, regardless of how they felt. And as for the players, barring the odd exception – and it doesn’t take a genius to work out whom he meant – they cared not one jot for the club, nor the shirt nor its supporters. Given all the above, their current league position didn’t come as a surprise.
I’ve held the view for some time that the fans are too often taken for granted with their views ignored by many clubs. Thankfully, at Port Vale, that is no longer the case.