After losing at home to Oldham, Port Vale will clearly have to do more if they want to continue pushing for that elusive play-off spot.
Manager Rob Page called the 1-0 win over Notts County the most “pleasing of his career” but Vale were unable to continue their run on Tuesday night..
One shining light has been Ryan Inniss. The on-loan defender may have been booked once again but other than that his performances since joining the club have been unblemished.
Inniss Securing the Backline
There are still some issues Page needs to address as the season heads to a climax…
Since joining Vale on loan from CrystalPalace, Inniss’ presence on the pitch has contributed hugely to the club’s recent upswing. In fact, following his performance against NottsCounty during which he helped the side keep yet another clean sheet, Goalkeeper Chris Neal expressed his desire for Inniss to stay at the club. Talking to the Sentinel, Neal said the organisation Inniss has brought to the backline has been instrumental in helping the side in their recent good run
However, there are still some issues Page needs to address as the season heads to a climax. One of the major criticisms during the Oldham match was the lack of attacking drive displayed by Tom Pope and Ben Williamson.
Knowing when to up the Ante
Knowing when to pull the trigger is crucial in any sport and Page will need to consider his next formation carefully if he wants to win games comfortably rather than pinching results against lesser sides. Like a sniper, a professional poker player knows when to seize an opportunity and attack their opponent. This is the sort of mindset Page needs to adopt if he wants Vale’s Shot Per Game (SPG) to improve.
Like the canny poker player looking to up their Pre-flop Raise (PFR) percentage, more attacks equal more cash or, in Page’s case, more goals. The more he pushes his side forward, the less stress the fans will have to endure. Vale’s defensive line has already proved that it is more than capable of fending off attacks from all sides. Indeed, during the County match they successful defended nine corners and Neal blocked ten shots on target.
Vale can defend and the benefit of this is that it can give them more freedom to attack…
Vale can defend and the benefit of this is that it can give them more freedom to attack. Indeed, like our poker playing friend, it’s only possible to attack if they have solid fundamentals. Knowing how to play ABC poker is necessary before amateurs start running complex plays. Bluffing at the poker table without having previously mastered the hand rankings is suicidal. But once a grinder has secured their defences they have got free reign to get creative.
Be Confident and Move All-In for Victory
This is a luxury Page already has, but does not yet seem to realise. Vale have already shown solid fundamentals this season and proved beyond doubt they can stop teams from scoring. This should give the gaffer the impetus to be a little more creative with his forwards.
At the beginning of the season Vale managed a 1-1 draw with Oldham after taking an early lead but the Valiants were unable to take any points on Tuesday.
To borrow a phrase from the poker world, now would be the time for Page to put his chips on the table, move all-in and take a gamble.