We take a look at Vale’s play-off hopes plus does 2016 signal the end of Vale’s away-day blues?
Could Port Vale challenge for the play-offs?
Trips to the likes of Millwall, Doncaster and Wigan will undoubtedly be a test of Vale’s potential promotion credentials…
Back-to-back victories have created fresh hope that Port Vale could put themselves firmly amongst the race for the play-offs during the second half of the season. The 1-0 win at Blackpool may not have been the most polished of performances in difficult weather conditions on the east coast, but it could prove pivotal if the Valiants are able to push on and make their new-found confidence count.
Upcoming trips to the likes of Millwall, Doncaster and Wigan will undoubtedly be a test of Vale’s potential promotion credentials, especially as they will be considered underdogs by every football betting site, but with Southend and other teams in close vicinity showing signs of losing their way in recent weeks, it could take another good run of form for Port Vale to creep up the table.
Four consecutive victories in October and November is proof, if needed, that the team have it in them to show consistency at a stage of the campaign which Rob Page may value as crucial. Coral may value the Valiants’ chances of challenging at the top as rather slim, but with the play-offs within touching distance, fans will hope that the team realise the fantastic position they have put themselves in and work towards inching further up the table.
End of the away-day blues?
Despite the on and off-field problems at Blackpool that every Vale fan may sympathise with, there was no guarantee that the team would walk away with all three points. Picking up just eight points from the 12 previous fixtures away from Vale Park would not have filled fans with great confidence that the team would fare better in 2016, but a battling performance on a pitch that favoured neither side was enough to secure victory. The winning goal was probably not the prettiest that AJ Leitch-Smith will ever score, but no-one will care a jot as the three points are arguably more important as we enter the business stage of the season.
Continuing to pick up points at home could make a big difference towards making the play-offs…
Page may consider picking up more points away from home as an area that his Vale side can improve, but the team already appear to have found the winning formula at Vale Park. Fans will probably look ahead to 2016’s football calendar events on Coral to back Port Vale to succeed on home soil, with the team currently enjoying an excellent run of eight unbeaten. Continuing to pick up points at home could make a big difference towards making the play-offs and potentially reaching the promised land of the Championship, and if the team improve results away from Vale Park, then the odds on promotion could represent excellent value.
Millwall are the only team to walk away from our stadium with all three points, but although we have came out on tops against the likes of Sheffield United and Wigan, Vale will have to be on their game to pick up positive results against Bradford and high-flying Coventry.
Stick or twist?
Page’s team are built upon solid defensive foundations…
There is an argument that Page’s Port Vale team play a more aesthetically pleasing style of football than that which the fans were treated to under Micky Adams, but those who were hoping for plenty of goals may feel slight disappointed and be left expecting more. 29 goals from 25 league fixtures is a sign that Vale have not really hit the goal trail, and although Rob Page still has the job of trying to create a partnership upfront that ignites the spark, improving that side of our game may not be essential. Burton find themselves top of the table and good value to be backed for promotion with any football betting site having scored just a few more than Port Vale, with their ability to grind out narrow victories working in their favour – a quality that Vale has shown often this season.
Page’s team are built upon solid defensive foundations that have enabled Vale to have one of the best defensive records in League One, with Richard Duffy, Ryan McGivern and Ben Purkiss playing instrumental roles this season. Having the experience of Sam Foley, Michael O’Connor and Michael Brown in front of the back four also helps, and although the latter has played very few games this season, excellent performances against Bury and Blackpool may provide Page with food for thought. Some would argue that Vale’s performances this season have deserved more goals than they have registered, but the team should not sacrifice their defensive qualities ahead of being more expansive and attack-minded in their pursuit of a play-off spot.