Port Vale have had a respectable start to the season but now sit fifteenth in the table after 14 league matches.
Despite their lowly position, Vale are just seven points behind sixth-placed Sheffield United, who occupy the fourth and final play-off spot.
While automatic promotion may be difficult for Port Vale this season, they have a strong, well-organised side who could compete for one of the coveted post-season places.
In their most recent fixture, Vale slipped to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Colchester United. Recently, Port Vale have struggled to inspire confidence and have won just one of their last five league fixtures. Rob Page’s men deserve plenty of plaudits for their continued efforts but, ultimately, they simply haven’t been good enough on a consistent basis. Yes, they’ve been unlucky in some fixtures but they haven’t shown enough talent or quality to demand a spot in the play-off places.
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However, the good news is that they are capable of producing an exceptional run of results. Although they lost star striker Tom Pope to Bury this summer, Vale have continued to create opportunities and find the back of the net. If they carry on in the same vein, goals and confidence will come. Saturday’s away fixture at Burton Albion would be a great time for Vale to really hit their stride and you can back the Valiants at 49/20 at the time of writing with 32Red to go on and win that match. They certainly need inspiration from somewhere if they are to go on a formidable run.
Defensively, Vale are shipping goals on a regular basis and Page must focus on improving their performances if they are to start earning clean sheets and much-needed victories. Perhaps the best news for the Valiants so far this season is that former Newcastle United goalkeeper Jak Alnwick has signed a new two-and-a-half year deal at Vale Park. Continuity and consistency are two of the key traits needed in order for a football club to succeed and an improved, solid and reliable defensive unit will help to improve both of these aspects of Vale’s performances.
Vale will need to improve quickly in order to achieve their ultimate goal of promotion this campaign. While Page’s men have shown glimpses of quality and brilliance, there simply haven’t been enough moments to get their supporters excited about their chances this season. Pope was a huge loss in the offseason but the Valiants certainly did their best to bring other stars into Vale Park in the summer. Remie Streete arrived on loan from Newcastle United this summer and he’s settled into life at the club well and is an integral part of the squad.
In order for Port Vale to succeed in their ambitions, they must invest in the January transfer window. Traditionally, it’s always been a poor time of the year to buy new players but a couple of incomings could give their current squad the impetus to press on and produce their best football. Vale are currently looking at shipping Achille Campion out to Torquay United – a suggestion that they might improve their strikeforce in January.
At the time of writing, 32Red, totesport and 888sport value the Valiants at 20/1 to achieve promotion this season – an aim that isn’t too far away if Page’s men put their minds to it. They have some excellent, promising players in their ranks but are significantly underachieving so far this season.
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With 24 matches remaining, there are still plenty of points to be won. Vale aren’t down and out just yet, but they must improve quickly if they are to compete for a playoff berth this season. They have a number of talented players who are capable of motivating their peers and, while it may seem like a lot of ifs and buts, they’re not actually too far away from challenging for the play-offs.
With a favourable run of fixtures coming up, now is the time for the Valiants to push on and build some momentum. With a bit of luck, Vale could be playing their football in the Championship next season.