Vale enter their penultimate home game of the season facing up to the likelihood that they need to win at least three of the remaining four fixtures to secure a play off spot. The Valiants have an ideal opportunity to close the gap on the sides directly above them as rock bottom Stockport County travel to the Potteries.
Having enjoyed a rivalry with Danny Bergara’s men in the early 1990s, when the Valiants beat County in both the play offs and the Autoglass Trophy Final, Stockport fans will be hoping that it isn’t Vale that this time releagte them from the Football League. A defeat could consign the Hatters to non league football next season, ending their 106 year stay in the League. Ray Mathias` men are currently eight points from safety having endured a miserable campaign.
Hopes were high at the start of the campaign under new boss Paul Simpson who was given the task of rebuilding a squad that had been badly affected after the club went into administration. However, a run of only three wins in nineteen matches saw the former Shrewsbury manager sacked at the turn of the year.
With games against the bottom two and a Morecambe side with little to play for, Vale still have hopes of squeezing into the top seven. However, only one win in the last nine matches, and a frankly terrible goal scoring record, it is going to take some turn around in fortunes to achieve this. Those statistics are also a reflection on the poor quality of the division this season, as the mayhem that has engulfed Vale since the turn of the year should have seen the Valiants well out of the race for promotion by now.
Assistant manager Geoff Horsfield told BBC Radio Stoke that it was important everyone at the club remained together ahead of the crucial end of season run in. ‘The emphasis is still on us, we’ve got a great chance of making the play-offs but we have to stick together.’
“They have got to get as many points as they can to get to safety so it’s going to be an open game and hopefully we’ll come out on top.’
Ray Mathias told the Stockport Express it was now or never for his side. “It`s make or break because we have to win the game.’
‘I was very disappointed with the first-half performance at Shrewsbury on Saturday, especially with the goals we conceded.’
‘We`ve had a small squad training this week but the mood has been good.’
‘We`ve tried to keep it light and enjoyable because we`ve got two games in three days.
‘We haven`t given up yet, you can be sure of that.
I think the second-half performance at Shrewsbury proves that.’
Port Vale Team News:
Marc Richards should be fit enough to start after suffering a dead leg following the draw at Torquay. Sean Rigg and Gary Roberts could be in contention for a recall after their appearances as second half substitutes last week. Doug Loft is ruled out for the remainder of the season with a ruptured hamstring.
Possible Team: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Owen, Collins, Dodds, Roberts, Griffith, R Taylor, M Richards, J Richards.
Player to watch: Gary Roberts
The midfielder has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons as of late. Undoubtedly, Roberts was Vale`s most influential player in the early part of the season but has since struggled for form and fitness. If the Valiants are to stand any chance of securing promotion, the former Crewe man will need to quickly recapture his best form.
Stockport County Team News:
County are hopeful that Paul Turnbull, Mansour Assoumani, Mat Paterson and Aaron Brown will all be fit for after sustaining knocks during last weekend`s 2-0 defeat at Shrewsbury. Top scorer Greg Tansey will again be missing as he serves the second match of his suspension.
Possible Team: Glennon, Assoumani, Halls, Rowe, Rose, Brown, Vincent, Griffin, Wallace, Elding, Poole.
Player to watch: Anthony Elding
The on loan Rochdale striker rejoined Stockport during the January transfer window having previously 25 goals for the club between 2006 and 2008. An unsuccessful spell at Leeds United followed and the 29 year old has since had spells with Lincoln City, Crewe, Kettering and Ferencvaros.
Match Facts & Stats
Stockport 0 Vale 5 (Rigg 23, M Richards pen 44, pen 62, J Richards 90, Speight 90)
Vale went to the top of League Two after a rare goal spree at Edgeley Park. The game was effectively over by half time as Vale went two up and the home side were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Mansour Assoumani.
Torquay United 0-0 Vale
Vale 1-1 Southend United
Chesterfield 2-0 Vale
Vale 2-1 Lincoln City
Vale 0-0 Bury
Shrewsbury 2-0 Stockport County
Stockport County 2-2 Stevenage
Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 Stockport County
Stockport County 2-1 Southend United
Aldershot 1-0 Stockport County
W Barratt and I Siddall
Fourth Official S Ihringova
Vale keep their play off hopes alive with a 2-0 win.
Stevenage (a) 25/04/2011 15.00