Port Vale - a look ahead

Form (last six): D-L-D-W-L-L

2002/03 Finish: League; Second Division: 17th

FA Cup: First Round

League Cup: First Round

2002/03 Top Scorer: Marc Bridge-Wilkinson

2002/03 Discipline: 66 yellow, 4 red

2003/04 Top Scorer: Steven McPhee – 8 goals

Even though this article is introducing tomorrow’s opponents, I would just like to divert your attention away from the Port Vale match and towards the Premiership. Just take a look towards the upper end of the table where you will see the regular famous five [Arsenal, Manchester United,
Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle] all drifting in the top-ten – nothing peculiar there you say?

Well now take a look through these big name teams with players that follow suit and you will find the not-so-famous four – these being your Charlton, Birmingham, Southampton and, more significantly to my point, Fulham.

When you look at this
West London club you see a tale of a club gone from relegation candidates one year, to being top-six material the next.

Now may I shift your attention back to Port Vale and I think that you’ll agree that Port Vale and Fulham share two similarities in that – other than playing in the same colours – they both have grounds barely fit for the third division and both have emerged as their respective league’s surprise packages – after both having been in their respective driving seats in the early stages of the campaign before a distinct lack in form allowed both sides to slip to seventh in their leagues.

The month of October has proven to be a tricky one for the Valiants as they hit a rough patch – chalking up only 4 points from the possible 18 up for grabs and then to start the month of November off, they slipped up at Saltergate – losing 1-0 to Chesterfield – and then being held to a 2-2 draw against the humble, Ford United.

So Notts will be hoping to capitalise on this poor run of form if they are to look to send Vale’s early run of form into just another statistic.

Billy Paynter.
The match reunites Vale manager, Brian Horton, with two of his former employees whilst at Huddersfield. The players in question here are County’s right sided players, Simon Baldry and Steven Jenkins who Horton regards as ‘good players’. Well, Horton sounds like a man who knows what he’s talking about so no comments thus far.

As we peek over the Port Vale metaphorical fence, it is clear to see that their squad is not without its ‘good’ players. One of these good players being the club’s Young Player of the Year award for last season, Billy Paynter.

This youngster burst onto the scene for Vale in May 2001, making his debut in the Second Division 2-0 defeat at home to Walsall after making a steady through the Valiants youth ranks. The Merseyside-born forward has since made over 30 starts for Vale since joining the club as a trainee. The youngster is now reaping in the benefits from playing off an experienced striker in the form of Steven McPhee.

***Star Player*** - Steven McPhee

McPhee converts a penalty against Notts County. Appropriate I thought.
First and foremost, McPhee is chasing a Valiants record set almost 40 years ago as he looks to equal John Rowland’s record of scoring in six consecutive games for Vale – a feat which Notts will be fighting against as, hopefully, he’ll get greedy and have no intentions of looking up – and should he fail, I for one won’t argue if the chance to be remembered goes to his head and he forgets his responsibilities.

Secondly, McPhee suffered a worrying goal drought last season as his tally shrouded his skilful performances somewhat as he only notched up 3 goals last term. Thankfully for the Vale faithful, McPhee is back on goal scoring form this season – almost trebling last season’s tally, scoring eight goals in seventeen league appearances.

The former
Coventry City striker now looks set to play the lead role in the opera that is Port Vale Football Club.

***Worth a Flutter?*** - with William Hill bookmakers

Port Vale – 8/11

Draw – 12/5

Notts County – 3/1