We take a look ahead to Saturday’s game with Swindon Town with another of OVF’s brief guides to Vale’s next opponents.
Last time we met?
Swindon coasted to a comfortable victory at Vale Park in December, thanks to a first-half strike from Lukas Magera and a Mehdi Kerrouche penalty.
And our overall record?
Vale have won 28 times, Swindon have won 25 times and there have been 18 draws. Vale last won at the County ground in 2005. The Valiants triumphed 2-1 thanks to goals from Micky Bell and Chris Cornes.
Man in charge?
We’ll leave aside his political and personal beliefs and concentrate purely on Paolo di Canio’s managerial skills. There’s no doubt that di Canio is one of the more colourful characters in the game and he’s survived bust-ups with players and officials to guide Swindon to promotion this season. A frenetic character on the touchline, we sawa him at Vale Park earlier in the season and he appeared to spent much of the game, with his back to the action, in animated conversation with another member of staff.
Statistically, his record’s impressive too. In 56 games, he’s acquired 35 wins, 17 losses and seven draws, taking Town to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final and promotion to League One.
Man to watch?
League Two will be much the poorer for the loss of Matt Ritchie, arguably the division’s best player this season. The 22 year-old joined from Portsmouth after two spells on loan and has scored ten goals in fifty games this season.
Played for both sides?
Talented winger Alex Smith (pictured) had played for Swindon on loan before he joined the Vale as one of five deadline day signings. Manager Brian Horton brought in Dave Brammer (£300,000 from Wrexham); Tony Butler (£115,000 from Blackpool); Carl Griffiths (£100,000 from Leyton Orient); Smith (£75,000 from Chester City); and Chris Allen (free from Nottingham Forest).
Of those signings, Brammer and Smith were to have the brightest Vale careers. Smith was part of the squad as the Valiants lifted only their second domestic trophy, defeating Brentford 2-1 at the Millennium stadium. He left Vale Park in 2001 and joined Alan Pardew’s Reading on a free transfer.
And some more…
Other players to appear for both sides include – Billy Paynter, Tim Parkin, Alex Smith, Paul Edwards, Robin Hulbert, Ralph Hunt, Ashley Westwood, Sam Collins, Ian Miller, Wayne Gray and Tony Sealy.
Lewis Haldane is playing for the reserves again after recovering from his double-leg fracture but the winger is not expected to figure in the first-team this season. Clayton McDonald may come back into the squad after his trial, but rookie Joe Davis has impressed and may keep his starting place. Swindon welcome striker Paul Benson back after he missed their last match with a hamstring injury. John Bostock may earn his second start after impressing against Gillingham.
What are they saying?
“This [Port Vale] is a very dangerous team and they have changed a lot since we last played them, and it will be very tough.”
– Paolo di Canio
Any other business?
Swindon could win the League Two title if they win this game. Vale fans are also reminded of a minute’s silence before the game to mark all the Swindon supporters and former players who have passed away this season.