With the Valiants playing host to Torquay United at the weekend, we present another lightning quick guide to our next opponents.
The man in charge
Martin Ling took over from Paul Buckle in June 2011. The 45 year-old has been in charge for 56 games, winning 25, drawing 14 and losing 17.
Man to watch
Bustling forward Rene Howe has started the season in fine form with three goals in four games. The 25 year-old joined United in 2011 after being loaned out six times by former club Peterborough United. Vale defender John McCombe is a fan, telling the Sentinel: “Rene’s a decent player and a big and strong lad, which is no different than a lot of strikers we see in this division. He is a handful, but players like myself, Clayton McDonald and Gareth Owen are no shrinking violets.”
Last time we met
Late goals from Rene Howe and Ryan Jarvis gave Torquay a 2-1 home win over Vale. The Valiants had taken the lead through John McCombe but the 69th minute dismissal of rookie defender Joe Davis (right) turned the game in Torquay’s favour.
It’s a dead heat. Vale have won 17 times, Torquay have won 17 times and there have been 17 draws. However, Vale Park is a happy hunting ground for United who are unbeaten in their last four visits. Vale’s last home win over Torquay was way back in 1985.
Leon Constantine (right) still provokes intense debate amongst Vale fans to this day. To some, he was a lazy goal hanger, only too keen to abandon the club as soon as a better offer came along. To others, he was a misunderstood prolific goal scorer. Constantine’s Vale stats certainly stack up – after signing for £20,000 from Torquay, he scored an impressive 38 goals in 85 games. He left the club in 2007 after turning down a new contract and after brief spells with Leeds, Oldham, Northampton, Cheltenham and Hereford, he was last seen at Boston United. He was released by the club in March of this year.
He played 42 games for Torquay from 2004 to 2005, scoring 10 times.
Vale defenders Gareth Owen and John McCombe have both spent loan spells at Torquay. Clinton Boulton, Daryl McMahon, Arjan van Heusden, Neville Southall, Cliff Birks and Les Lawrence have all played for both sides.
All is quiet on the Vale takeover front with former interested party Mike Newton denying any interest in the club. So the focus has switched to events on the pitch. Lewis Haldane (right) is set to step up his recovery from surgery while Vale’s reserves enjoyed a 1-0 win over Mansfield Town thanks to a Gareth Owen goal.
Torquay’s build-up has been dominated with defensive problems. Martin Ling has been unsuccessful in the loan market commenting: “If I could fetch someone in for six months and improve the squad, it would be different but that’s not what I’m being offered at the moment.” So, Ling is set to hand a debut to Kirtys McKenzie who will become only the second Torquay youth graduate in the last ten years (just think, in that time, Joe Davis, Ryan Lloyd, Chris Martin, Joe Anyon, Sam Morsy and many more have graduated from Vale’s scheme).
Vale are boosted by the return of Rob Taylor and Gareth Owen (right) to the matchday squad after the duo both came through a reserve game unscathed.
Torquay have defensive problems and may turn to 18 year-old rookie Kirtys McKenzie. Midfielder Damon Lathrope (knee) and wingers Lloyd Macklin (hamstring) and Saul Halpin (ankle) are all sidelined.
What they are saying
“They have always given us a good game over the past couple of years and it will be no different this time. It will be tough, but we’ll be looking for a win.”
– John McCombe
“We won’t be spending £10m on a player, so if you’re a Torquay supporter, I advise you to have a nice relaxing meal tonight, rather than sitting in front of the telly.”
– Torquay boss Martin Ling offers transfer window advice to fans
Vale fans making the annual pilgrimage to Torquay later this season will see a new structure at Plainmoor. A new £2m stand was opened in July. Named Bristow’s Bench after a former Director the stand incorporates the club’s dressing rooms and pressbox. There’s a photo of it here – http://www.footballgroundguide.com/torquay_united/