Here’s our traditional pre-match feature for our first visitors of the new season – our local rivals Walsall.
Manager: Micky Adams
Last match: 3-2 vs West Brom (friendly)
Form guide: N/A
Manager: Dean Smith
Last match: 1-0 vs Chasetown (friendly)
Form guide: N/A
Micky Adams (right) says he’s 90% sure about his starting line-up but ahead of the game there’s still plenty of possibilities for fans to ponder.
Will it be Sam Johnson or Chris Neal in goal?
Who will form the centre-back partnership?
And who’ll line-up in midfield?
Richard Duffy, Michael Brown and Colin Daniel were all rested for the final pre-season friendly against West Brom on Tuesday night while Tom Pope (right) came off at half-time in that game because of a groin strain. However, Adams is confident all four will be fit for Saturday.
For what it’s worth, it seems that injuries allowing, Dickinson, Duffy, Lines, O’Connor, Marshall and Pope are certain starters and with that in mind here’s our patented “finger in the air” possible starting XI:
Yates – Duffy – McGivern – Dickinson (c)
Brown – O’Connor – Lines
Marshall – Pope – Daniel
Walsall’s Dean Smith has brought in Tom Bradshaw from Shrewsbury, Jordan Cook from Charlton, Derby’s James O’Connor, Craig MacGillivray from Harrogate and Bury’s Ashley Grimes to help strengthen his squad. Sam Mantom returned from injury in this week’s warm-up clash with Aston Villa.
“Saturday will be day one of a long season. When you’ve put all that effort in, it’s always nice to get off to a good start. I think it’s the teams that get off to a good start that have a good season…”
– Tom Pope
Last time we met
Port Vale completed an extremely rare league double over Walsall back in April. Jennison Myrie-Williams scored the winner from the penalty spot.
- Vale wins: 21
- West Brom wins: 38
- Draws: 24
Did you know?
- Despite their historically appalling record against Walsall, the Valiants have lost just one of the last seven meetings between the two sides.
- Chris Robertson (right) scored his first Vale goal in the 2-1 loss to Walsall in the Capital One Cup last season.
- Keeper Sam Johnson saved three penalties and scored the winner as Vale won a marathon Johnstones Paint Trophy clash in 2012.
- Midfielder Florent Cuvelier scored in that JPT tie – he was later to join the Valiants on loan.
Any other business?
Vale fans can pick up their season tickets from the ticket office before the game. The office will be open until 2.30pm.
They played for both…
Walsall’s management team both have a Vale connection. Manager Dean Smith (right) spent six months at Vale Park in 2004 while his assistant Richard O’Kelly spent two years with the Valiants.
Midfielder Romaine Sawyers will be facing the Valiants three years after a less than productive loan spell at Vale Park. Sawyers was brought in by Jim Gannon alongside West Brom team-mate Kaylden Brown but Sawyers managed just eight minutes of action for Vale before returning to his parent club.
Other players to appear for both sides include: Florent Cuvelier, Marc Laird, Paul Marshall, Stefan Moore, Simon Osborn, Michael Husbands, Brett Angell, Darren Beckford, Colin Gibson, Adrian Littlejohn (right), Dave Barnett, Nicky Cross, Jonny Brain, Bobby Gough, Roy Cross, Keith Ball, John Woodward, Gary Ford, Steve Cherry, Danny Sonner, Ally Brown, Tony Richards, Trevor Wood, Rhys Weston and Hector Sam.
The Valiants are unbeaten in their last five opening league games at Vale Park, a run that stretches back to 2008. Those results are as follows:
- Brentford 2013 (D)
- Barnet 2012 (W)
- Crawley 2011 (D)
- Chesterfield 2010 (D)
- Rochdale 2009 (D)
- Accrington 2008 (L)