With Gillingham not playing until Monday, the Valiants have the opportunity to go back top of League Two when they entertain Accrington Stanley at Vale Park tomorrow.
With the transfer window mercifully shut, Micky Adams has managed to hang on to all of his key players, while adding some much needed experience to his squad. The visitors, languishing only three points above the relegation zone have also enjoyed a productive shopping spree- adding four players to their squad. Goalkeeper Paul Rachubka joins from Leeds United, centre back Mark Hughes from Bury, Tom Aldred from Colchester United, while the former Bolton Wanderers full back Nicky Hunt joins on loan from Rotherham United. He will be one hoping for a better day at Vale Park, where he was last seen being tormented by Ashley Vincent during Vale`s 6-2 win over the Millers back in September.
With back to back home games this week, followed by a trip to Barnet, Vale have a great opportunity to cement their place at the top of the division and put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack. A chasing pack that is looking increasingly not good enough to mount a sustained challenge even should the Vale slip up. Stanley have been somewhat of a bogey side for the Vale, having enjoyed several good results against the Vale over recent seasons and beating Micky Adams` side 2-0 at the Crown Ground earlier this season. Leam Richardson`s men will be difficult to break down, highlighted by their dogged 0-0 draw at Plymouth Argyle last Saturday.
Vale Assistant Manager Mark Grew hinted that there may be changes for Saturday`s game given the strength in depth the squad now possesses. “There have been times when the manager has kept the team the same after winning, but with hindsight he has thought perhaps he could have rested a couple of the lads because they were tired.
Now we have a few more players in, if anybody feels jaded or has not performed in the way he wants, then he will make changes to the side.
Last week at Wimbledon Adam Yates was unlucky to be left out, but if you looked at their side, they were big and strong on set pieces, so we picked a side that we thought would be capable of handling that.
That is how it will be now, it will be horses for courses, and for the game against Accrington Stanley on Saturday there might be two or three changes. We will have a look at that towards the end of the week.”
Port Vale Team News:
Louis Dodds and Rob Taylor have both returned to training this week following injury; however, the pair are unlikely to be risked. Young defender Joe Davis is also a doubt after sustaining a dead leg in the reserves` 2-1 win over Oldham Athletic
Possible Team: Neal, Duffy, Purse, Chilvers, Jones, Myrie-Williams, Loft, Burge, Vincent, Pope, Hughes.
Player to watch: Tom Pope
Undoubtedly the best bit of business Vale did during January was keeping hold of Pope. Having hit his 27th goal of a stunning campaign last time out, much rests of the ‘Pontiff` to keep firing the goals for the Valiants.
Accrington Stanley Team News:
Accrington will be expected to make changes to the side following the arrival of several new signings. Giant defender Mark Hughes is set to make his debut, while Nicky Hunt will be hoping to feature after suffering a head injury.
Rachubka, Hunt, Hughes, Winnard, Murphy, Wilson, Joyce, Barnett, Lindfield, Beattie, Boco.
Player to watch: James Beattie
The former England International needs no introduction. Now player coach at Stanley, where teams up with his former Blackburn team mate Leam Richardson, Beattie won all 5 of his caps while at Southampton. Scoring over 70 goals, he left the South Coast, moving to Everton for £6 million, before spells at Stoke City, Sheffield United and Blackpool.
Match Facts & Stats
Accrington 2 (Amond pen 43, Gray 90) Vale 0
Vale feel aggrieved to lose a game they dominated for large periods, with home keeper Ian Dunbavin in inspired form.
Last five games:
AFC Wimbledon 2-2 Vale
Gillingham 1-2 Vale
Vale 4-0 Plymouth
Vale 0-2 Fleetwood
Dagenham 2-3 Vale
Plymouth 0-0 Accrington
Aldershot 2-0 Accrington
Accrington 0-2 Dagenham
Accrington 1-0 Chesterfield
Rotherham 4-1 Accrington
Karl Evans and Gordon Johnson
Fourth Official Nigel Smith
Vale continue their fine form with a 2-0 win.
AFC Wimbledon (h) 05/02/2013