Vale travel to North London where they seek to extend their lead at the top of League Two against Edgar Davids` Barnet.
There was much eyebrow-raising when the former Dutch international midfielder and Champions League winner joined the club. Initially forming a partnership with Mark Robson, Davids appeared to make an instant impact at Underhill and was quickly given the top job himself on a permanent basis. Finding themselves cut adrift at the foot of the table, Barnet, helped by some experienced heads in Davids himself, the former Sunderland winger Jon Oster and ex Vale loannee Krystian Pearce, began to haul themselves up the table. Back to back defeats, however, have left them only one point off the bottom of the table.
Barnet have been somewhat hampered by the recent weather, which has left them without a home game for five weeks. However, a win at Gillingham on Boxing Day, followed by a draw at promotion contenders Exeter City and a home win over Bradford City, show that the Bees still possess plenty of sting. The recent signings of strikers Harry Crawford from Dartford and Ibra Sekajja on loan from Crystal Palace will also give Davids some extra attacking impetus.
A small concern for the Valaints may be that they have played two games since Barnet last kicked a ball – both on very heavy pitches. With Darren Purse, Lee Hughes and Liam Chilvers all the wrong side of 30, it is something that the Vale boss may well need to monitor to ensure Vale don`t slip up in their bid to turn the screw on the chasing pack.
Vale boss Micky Adams told BBC Radio Stoke that everything was looking rosy ahead of the trip to Underhill.
“The football club’s in great shape at the moment. We’re in a tremendous run of form and the team’s playing with a lot of confidence.
It’s not a fluke we are where we are. We work hard at it every day. There is an intensity you can see in training and, when you’ve got that, you’ve got a decent football club.
“But we can’t rest on our laurels. The players are feeling good about themselves right now, but we’ve got to keep working at it.”
Barnet Team News:
Ricky Holmes is a doubt for the home side, although Curtis Weston is in line for a return to the team having missed out on the defeat at Bristol Rovers.
Possible Team: Stack, Johnson, Stephens, Iro, Byrne, Yiadom, Oster, Davids, Nurse, Crawford, Sekajja.
Player to watch: Harry Crawford
A recent signing from Dartford, the striker scored on his debut at Bristol Rovers last week. The forward likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender, so he may well give Vale`s, at times, rather ponderous defence some difficulty.
Port Vale Team News:
Adams is likely to name the same team that has won back to back games 3-0. Louis Dodds, Rob Taylor and Joe Davis will all be pushing for a place on the bench.
Neal, Duffy, Purse, Chilvers, Jones, Myrie-Williams, Burge, Loft, Vincent, Hughes, Pope.
Player to watch: Lee Hughes
Where the legs are no longer willing, the brain is. Hughes has lost none of his predatory instincts in front of goal. While Tom Pope may be finding space harder to come by, owing to his devastating form, the former West Brom striker has taken full advantage as seen by his unmarked header during the midweek win over AFC Wimbledon.
Match Facts & Stats
Vale 3 (Dodds 8, Myrie-Williams (pen) 20, Pope 75) Barnet 0
Vale opened the season with a comfortable win against a toothless Barnet. Goals from Louis Dodds, Jennison Myrie-Williams and Tom Pope completed the victory.
Last five games:
Bristol Rovers 2-1 Barnet
Burton Albion 1-0 Barnet
Barnet 2-0 Bradford City
Barnet 0-1 Aldershot
Exeter City 2-2 Barnet
Vale 3-0 AFC Wimbledon
Vale 3-0 Accrington Stanley
AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Vale
Gillingham 1-2 Vale
Vale 4-0 Plymouth
Ian Cooper and David Rock
Fourth Official Geoffrey Russell
Vale extend their unbeaten run with a 3-1 win.
Morecambe (h) 16/02/2013