Reds face their first Sky Bet League Two fixture of the 2020/21 season when we travel to Vale Park to take on promotion hopefuls Port Vale tomorrow at 3pm.
With only pre-season friendlies and cup ties to reflect on, Port Vale have had a positive build-up to the league campaign with an EFL Cup victory over Scunthorpe United at the Sands Venue Stadium, with striker Theo Robinson clinching a winner in the 94th minute, securing Vale’s place in the second round. In midweek they hosted Tranmere Rovers, and the game resulted in penalties after a 90 minute stalemate. Despite two penalty misses, Vale ran out shoot-out winners claiming the extra point in the group.
In pre-season, Vale defeated League One Rochdale 2-1, after losing by the same scoreline to Blackpool, also of England’s third tier. The Reds played three strong U23 outfits in pre-season, claiming draws against Tottenham Hotspur and Watford, and defeating Crystal Palace at The People’s Pension Stadium, with Sam Ashford and Brian Galach getting on the scoresheet.
In our first competitive game of the season, Reds lost out 3-1 to championship outfit Millwall in the Carabao Cup First Round, before losing out 2-1 to Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium on Tuesday evening, despite an inspiring performance with lots of goal-scoring opportunities - many positives to take ahead of tomorrow’s all-important clash.
Since the first fixture of the 2011/12 League Two season, where we also travelled to Vale Park, the sides have met on 11 occasions, all in league competition. Of these fixtures, the Reds have achieved 3 victories, 2 of which coming from Vale Park, but the home side have won the majority of ties, claiming 6 wins from 11 over the years, both home and away.
Reds fans may remember the 2-1 away win at the back end of the 2017/18 season, where a late Nathan Smith own-goal saw Crawley snatch all three points following a first-half Josh Payne penalty. Current Reds Glenn Morris, Lewis Young and Dannie Bulman all started on that day, in a game that also saw the likes of Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Enzio Boldewijn and Josh Yorwerth feature from the off.
Port Vale pose an attacking threat for sure, with wide players such as Cristian Montano, David Worrall and Devante Rodney all in contention to start within the 4-3-3 system that the hosts have worked with in recent years. The Valiants also today signed Harry McKirdy, who we faced on the opening day of last season, when the winger was at Carlisle United. In terms of centre-forwards, Vale are not short of options either, with renowned goal-scorers such as Mark Cullen and Theo Robinson available to play tomorrow.
EFL veteran Leon Legge looks set to captain the Valiants at the heart of defence, and goalkeeper Scott Brown will surely be the man in between the sticks, after not missing a single league game in his last three campaigns whilst at Port Vale and Wycombe Wanderers.
New man Tom Nichols is now available for selection for the Reds to bolster our attacking options, but David Sesay looks unlikely to feature due to the knock he picked up during the warm-up at Gillingham. There are no other injury concerns within the squad, apart from the long-term absence of attacker Reece Grego-Cox.
VIEW FROM THE CAMP
HOW THEY BET*
Port Vale 17/20
*Odds correct with EFL partners Sky Bet at time of writing. Please gamble responsibly.
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