Vale will be hoping to end a miserable month with a much needed victory over local rivals Crewe Alexandra. The game pits the division`s meanest defence against League Two`s top scorers. With a number of former Alex players on Vale`s books, much of the focus will be on Gary Roberts, who made over 100 starts for Crewe between 2003 and 2008, before his off the field issues began to surface.
Vale have yet to win this month, whereas Alex are on an 11-match unbeaten league run, and have quickly become seen as the division`s entertainers, having been involved in a number of high scoring games, including a 5-5 draw at leaders Chesterfield. Crewe will travel to Burslem full of confidence after moving into the play off positions following last week`s 3-1 win over Aldershot.
Speaking to BBC Radio Stoke ahead of the game, former Crewe midfielder Gary Roberts stated he harboured no ill feeling towards his former club. ‘I have good memories, Dario looked after me. He’s made me the player I am today.’
‘He’s drilled his technical work into me and he’s done nothing but help me.’
‘It’s lovely to play against your old club but is come down to the hard work that I did in pre-season and got myself a contract. Even though it’s Crewe I’ll treat it as any other game.’
Vale boss Micky Adams told The Sentinel that his his side will be ready for whatever Crewe throw at them. “If Crewe attack us, great, because it will be a real test for our back four. They’ve scored 30 goals, which indicates they’ve got an attacking team.
‘I know it will be a little bit spicy and feisty and I sense the boys are ready for the game.
‘If you give good players time and space on the ball they’ll hurt you – that doesn’t change whether we’re playing Crewe, Hereford, Cheltenham or anybody else.
‘We want to compete in games and stop teams from playing but within the rules – that won’t be any different tomorrow.’
Dario Gradi told the Alex Official Website that he will be approaching Saturday`s game as if it were any other league game. “We won’t be approaching the game any differently. If we ever do that then there has to be a very good reason. You only really do that if a team is a much better than us and when I say that I mean if we have a Premier League team in a cup match.
‘If someone has superior players to you then you have to do some work on trying to stop them first and adjust the team pattern to contain them. We don’t tend to worry ourselves silly about the opposition. It is all about what we do as individuals and collectively as a team.
‘For games as this level, we won’t change too much. We will pay attention to Port Vale and respect them but we will be going there to try and win the game. That never changes regardless of who we are playing against.’
Port Vale Team News:
Vale are short of on attacking options following injuries to Lewis Haldane and Rob Taylor. With Jemal Johnson back at parent club MK Dons, Micky Adams is scouring the loan market for a couple of fresh faces. Sean Rigg has a slight hamstring strain, though is expected to be fit for selection. The Vale boss has a decision to make as to whether he continues with the 3-5-2 system deployed in the 0-0 draw at Cheltenham, or to revert to his tried and trusted 4-4-2 formation. Former Crewe Academy graduates Stuart Tomlinson and Adam Yates will line up for the Valiants, while Ritchie Sutton should start on the bench. Possible Team: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Owen, Collins, Loft, Roberts, Griffith, Rigg, M. Richards, J. Richards.
Player to watch: Gary Roberts
It goes without saying that Roberts will be eager to impress against his former club, and can expect a hostile reaction from the travelling Alex fans, despite his comments earlier in the week. Vale will be hoping for another match winning performance, following his goal in the top of the table clash against Shrewsbury last month.
Crewe Alexandra Team News:
Left back Danny Blanchett has been ruled out with a head injury sustained during last week`s win over Aldershot. Mat Mitchel-King is expected to replace him in the side. Crewe have no further injury concerns, so want-away striker Calvin Zola will have to settle for a place on the bench. Possible Team: Taylor, Mitchel-King, Artell, Ada, Tootle, Westwood, Murphy, Bell, Grant, Donaldson, Moore.
Player to watch: Ashley Westwood
The versatile Westwood will be eager to make his mark on the fixture, having missed out on a place in the side last season. The Academy graduate has this week been linked with a £750,000 move to Nottingham Forest and is rapidly attracting interest from higher division clubs after a series of impressive performances. The 20 year old will be keen to add to his four goals this term.
Match Facts & Stats
Crewe 1 (Miller) Vale 2 (Richards, K Taylor)
Alex striker Shaun Miller gave the home side the lead, before Marc Richards equalised on the stroke of half time. Kris Taylor`s strike from an acute angle, ten minutes from time gave Vale the three points.
Vale 0 Crewe 1 (Miller pen)
Referee Chris Sarginson proved the star performer as he awarded the visitors a penalty following Gareth Owen`s ‘foul` on Clayton Donaldson. Video replays showed what most present felt at the time, that Owen cleanly won the ball, despite evidence from Dario Gradi`s 1970 Philips ‘N1500`.
Last five league games:
Cheltenham 0-0 Vale
Vale 0-0 Gillingham
Hereford 1-1 Vale
Oxford 2-1 Vale
Vale 1-0 Shrewsbury
Crewe 3-1 Aldershot
Southend 0-2 Crewe
Crewe 3-3 Torquay
Chesterfield 5-5 Crewe
Crewe 1-1 Macclesfield
A Newbold and R Pollock
Fourth Official S Mathieson
Vale to end October with a much needed win, after goals from Marc Richards and Sean Rigg seal a 2-1 victory.
Burton Albion a) 02/11/10 19.45