After a couple of cup games, it’s back to the league for the Valiants and a reunion with an old favourite…
In the picture:
The story behind our choice of image we’ve chosen to lead the article with…
It’s an obvious choice but this game should see Chris Neal in action against the Valiants for the first time since leaving the club.
Neal joined the Valiants in 2012 and was first-choice as the club were promoted in 2013. The keeper’s consistent displays had made him a firm crowd favourite and he was voted players’ player of the season and away fan’s player of the season at the end of his first campaign with the club.
He made a good start to the 2013-14 season before injuring his wrist in November. He returned to the first-team when he recovered but started the next season on the bench as Micky Adams opted for Sam Johnson. Neal returned to the starting line-up in September and was first-choice till the end of that season.
He was injured in the summer of 2015 and Jak Alnwick started in his place. When Neal recovered he could not oust the shirt from the impressive youngster and he was loaned to Doncaster Rovers and Bury.
With Neal unlikely to replace Alnwick he left the club in the summer and joined Fleetwood. He made 143 appearances for the Valiants and speaking ahead of the game told the Blackpool Gazette “I’m hoping for a good reception. I have always got on with the fans there so I am hoping for nothing but positives. There was no animosity, I think the fans understood my situation.”
We’re pretty positive that as a consistent performer he is sure of a good reception from Vale fans on Saturday.
The two sides
- Manager: Bruno Ribeiro
- Last match: 0-0 vs Doncaster Rovers
- Top scorer: Alex Jones (8)
- Manager: Uwe Rosler
- Last match: 2-4 vs Carlisle
- Top scorer: Ball, Hunter (6)
12th November 2016
“It will be a big game for us as we want to get back into the top six. They’re a good side but if we play the way we can I’m sure we can get the three points…”
Vale coach Andy Smith
“I had four good seasons there so there are a lot of people I know and it would be nice to see them again…”
Former Vale keeper Chris Neal
Vale team news
The Valiants will rotate their squad after a number of changes for the Football League Trophy draw with Doncaster. Jak Alnwick, Ryan Taylor, Jerome Thomas and Martin Paterson could all return.
There could be changes upfront for the Valiants as both Alex Jones (right) and Anton Forrester are making good returns from injury. Neither are expected to start the game but could make the bench.
Last time we met…
It finished in a 0-0 draw back in February. Here are the ahem, highlights…
Port Vale wins: 2
Port Vale losses: 3
We’ve already mentioned Chris Neal but another former player could be set to face the Valiants. Defender Joe Davis joined Town on loan in 2015 and the move was made permanent in 2016.
Davis progressed through the Vale youth ranks to make his debut in 2011. He made a total of 27 first-team appearances but was never a first-team regular.
In 2014, he turned down Vale’s contract offer to join Leicester City – a move that prompted a spat between Micky Adams and Davis’ father, Crewe manager Steve Davis
Did you know…
- The first sides first met in September 2012
- Vale have never won at home against Fleetwood
- Sam Foley (right) is the last Vale player to score against Fleetwood
- Tom Pope and Louis Dodds (2 each) are Vale’s top scorers against Town