With the season on hold and no football for now, I thought I’d take a look over the campaign so far – the highs and lows.
So, here goes…..
BEST VALE PERFORMANCE
Forest Green at home was very good but I’m going for Swindon at home.
It was a bit like the Luton game a couple of years ago when we stayed up, and beat them 4-0.
Swindon were top of the league and flying, and Eoin Doyle had scored for 11 games in a row – but we battered them. We were by far the better team and deserved to win. I know it was only 2-0 but it could have been more.
Did it give us extra belief? Not really because we had already had some good results against teams near the top by then, including winning at Crewe.
Northampton away was a great performance as well, although the complete opposite to Swindon really. The win at Northampton was defensively superb.
They bombarded us aerially but Shaun Brisley and Leon Legge headed everything and Scott Brown stopped everything that came his way.
It was a contrast to the Swindon game where we on the front foot and got after them.
THE WORST PERFORMANCE
Grimsby – I was on the bench!
Morecambe and Macclesfield away were both really poor but we stayed in those games. When you have been poor and only lost by the odd goal then you come away thinking you were in the game. But Grimsby scored five against us so there’s no hiding that, they punished us badly.
But a feature of this season is there have been so few games where we have been really turned over. We’ve only lost eight games in the league and only Grimsby, Exeter and Swindon have beaten us by more than one goal.
So, even when we have played poorly we have stayed in games, and in between those games we have been winning matches.
That’s the difference. Even the year we just stayed up, we were only losing by the odd goal. But teams down at the bottom will keep doing that, whereas now our defeats are followed by a couple of wins or a decent unbeaten run. Every time we have lost we have tended to bounce back with a good performance.
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE BY A VALE PLAYER
Scott Brown away to Crawley, I think he saved four one-on-ones that day to keep us in the game and get us a point. I also thought Shaun Brisley was superb in the win at Northampton.
It was like he was magnetised to the ball. Every one they put in, he seemed to head it away or was putting in last-ditch tackles.
But then you look at someone like David Worrall. When he’s at his best he is ‘ratting’ all over the pitch, getting round people, getting in tackles and chasing people down. So people might not notice that as a brilliant individual performance.
It’s not tearing a defender apart but it is doing his bit by his work rate and energy. That’s why the fans love him, he’s everywhere.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN OPPOSITION PLAYER
Phil Foden for Man City. I knew he was a good player but, when you see the team sheet, with the two Silvas and Aguero on there, you think Phil Foden might be the least your worries!
But I thought he was the best player on the pitch. His weight of pass and movement were great, he’s got good feet and he is a lot quicker than I thought he was.
It’s a tough one in the league because, although there are some good players, we have tended to do well against the better sides. For example I think Danny Mayor is the best player in the league but we beat Plymouth and he didn’t really stand out against us.
BEST VALE AWAY SUPPORT
The obvious one is Man City, when we took 8,000, so I’ll try to keep it to the league.
There have been a few. Crewe is up there, but we always take a big support there.
I’m actually going to go for two games where we drew, – Salford and Leyton Orient.
We always seem to have a good following but sometimes you just feel that energy from the fans and they seem louder or more behind you than other days.
I don’t know whether it was because Salford was a new ground for a lot, or they had been in Manchester for the day, or because it was only our second away game.
But they were really willing us on and we were unlucky to concede in the last minute.
I’d put Leyton Orient away in there was well because the support was brilliant again, right behind us.
You see the highlights from that game, Leggey celebrating by sliding on his knees, and it just seemed to be a great day even though, again, we got pegged back at the end for a draw.
BEST SUPPORT FROM AN OPPOSITION CLUB
I’ll go for Plymouth, even though we beat them. The numbers they take away are brilliant. I just find it mad considering how far they have to travel.
They brought 700 to the Vale, which isn’t even one of their bigger away followings. They had 2,400 at Swindon and over 1,000 to Salford on a Tuesday night,
They are a really big club, always seen to get behind their players, and have a great away following.