Vale travel to in-form Accrington Stanley hoping to hang on to their play-off spot following last weekend`s loss to Oxford United. After a decent run of form, Vale produced a dismal performance against the Yellows and will need a much improved display in order to take anything from the Crown Ground. Stanley have won six of their last eight matches and still harbour hopes of a late charge at the play offs, as they have games in hand on the sides immediately above them.
Manager John Coleman continues to produce miracles on a budget. Year on year his side continue to improve while playing good football. Coleman has attracted the attention of a number of other League Two sides over recent times. His record would have made him an attractive proposition for the Vale job, and his name was also mentioned regarding the recent vacant position at Bradford City, although any club would be required to pay compensation for the Liverpudlian, who signed a five year contract with last year.
While matters on the pitch are looking up for Stanley, the financial situation is a little less positive. The club were late paying some of the players` wages for February and were also late with a payment to HM Revenue and Customs.
Vale have twice defeated Accrington this year. A 2-0 home win in September was followed by a hard fought 1-0 success in the Second Round of the FA Cup. Coleman has strengthened his squad with the signing of former midfielder Ian Craney.
Vale will be hopeful of taking advantage of a free week, while the home side beat struggling Burton Albion on Tuesday. Torquay`s win at Bury in midweek has put the pressure on Jim Gannon`s men, who now sit only a point above the Devon club.
Jim Gannon told the Official Site he was prepared for a tough encounter at the Crown Ground: ‘They play a continental 4-3-2-1 formation and have got three excellent attacking midfielders in McConville, Craney and Ryan. They have also got a very good free transfer in Terry Gornell, who I rate highly.
‘They have really improved this year and I think they have grown as a team, so Saturday will be a real challenge for us.’
Accrington Stanley Team News:
Coleman looks set to name the side that beat Burton Albion on Tuesday as he continues to be without injury victims Leam Richardson and Charlie Barnett.
Possible Team: Cisak, Winnard, Hessey, Edwards, Jacobsen, Procter, Ryan, McConville, Joyce, Craney, Gornell.
Player to watch: Sean McConville
The attacking midfielder has already netted nine times this season and will pose a threat along with fellow midfielders Ian Craney and Jimmy Ryan. The 22 year old started his career at Skelmersdale United before making the switch to Accrington in 2009.
Port Vale Team News:
Gannon could make changes to the side that lost at home to Oxford. Gareth Owen should be fit following his lengthy lay off with the knee and ankle injuries he sustained during the 1-1 draw at Wycombe at the beginning of February, but it is unlikely he will start. Stuart Tomlinson will be hopeful of regaining his position after replacing Chris Martin in goal at half time last week. Anthony Griffith, Rob Taylor and Louis Dodds will all be in contention for a recall. Dominic Blizzard has been named in the squad following his switch from Bristol Rovers.
Possible Team: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Collins, K Taylor, Geohaghon, Morsy, Blizzard, M Richards, J Richards, Haldane.
Player to watch: Marc Richards
Richards will be hopeful of netting his 100th career goal on Saturday. Vale`s leading scorer has scored four times in the last five matches since making his return from a six week injury lay off.
Match Facts & Stats
Vale 1 (J Richards 24) Accrington 0
Justin Richards` close range strike ensured the Valiants progressed to the Third Round of the FA Cup on a wintry night in the Potteries.
Vale 2 (M Richards 31, Dodds 81) Accrington 0
A stunning volley from Marc Richards and a late goal from substitute Louis Dodds gave the Vale a deserved win over a Stanley side that gave Vale a fright with an improved second half display.
Last five games:
Accrington 3-1 Burton Albion
Gillingham 3-1 Accrington
Accrington 3-0 Stockport County
Lincoln City 0-0 Accrington
Accrington 1-0 Torquay United
Vale 1-2 Oxford
Shrewsbury 2-2 Vale
Aldershot 1-2 Vale
Vale 1-3 Stevenage
Vale 2-1 Bradford City
P A Davison and J Whiteley
Fourth Official R L Metcalfe
Accrington compound the agony for Jim Gannon as they run out 2-1 winners.
Hereford United (h) 22/03/2011 19.45