Port Vale on brink of post-war record as Darrell Clarke explains why he was booked after Conlon goal



Port Vale will set a post-war record if they can keep a clean sheet at home to Bradford City on Saturday – and manager Darrell Clarke is urging his side to embrace that challenge.

The Vale have been writing history during their remarkable turnaround over the last two months, winning six in a row for the first time since 1996 and then keeping five clean sheets on the spin for the first time since 2010.

Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Barrow means the Vale have taken seven wins and a draw from their last eight games and also means they are on the brink of six successive league clean sheets for the first time since 1928.

Far from seeing a looming record as extra pressure, Clarke wants his side to know they could make history.

He said: “If it makes for a bit of spice, an extra bit of motivation, then too right. They should be proud of themselves.

“They have had a lot of stick for the middle third of the season and they have responded with me absolutely outstandingly. So yes, we want to be breaking records for the right way, not for not winning games. You have to enjoy these moments but you can’t get carried away in these moments.

“I keep saying there is a kick around the corner, we just don’t know how big that corner is. We have another tough game on Saturday against Bradford and will try to get another three points and a clean sheet.”

Vale’s turnaround has been remarkable, from relegation candidates to 22 points from a possible 24 to climb to 14th.

A miserly defence, founded on a back three with the experienced Leon Legge flanked by Nathan Smith and Shaun Brisley, has been crucial to that run.

Clarke said: “It is working on them. Defensive work, defensive shape.

“It has not really been rocket science. It is no disrespect, Leggey is a solid centre half. Middle centre half of a back three. Him Brisley, and Smithy, you have a little bit of legs next to him and we are not getting done by the sides.

“So, putting someone extra in there…then with centre forwards that were not really on form, it is just making sure they work hard and trying to get those special moments in the game.

“I am not being funny, it is just being ugly, scruffy, just doing what we need to do to win football matches.

“The lads have been doing that in abundance. So, plenty of work and we keep working away.”

There was nothing ugly or scruffy about Tom Conlon’s two goals at Barrow. In fact, Clarke was booked for overly zealous celebrations towards the home dugout after the midfielder volleyed home the opener from 45 yards.

The manager said: “They are appealing for a lot, I was frustrated, I thought Smithy got pulled back by the boy Taylor and said a few words on that. Then when we scored, I shouted ‘Justice!’.

“It must have warranted a yellow card. It was pure emotion, I have apologised, I am a passionate guy. Referees have a difficult job to do, I understand that, but I want to win football games so sometimes I step over the line.

“I haven’t got many yellow cards to be fair. So, I’ll take it on the chin and hopefully Carol will pay my fine!”





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