One question on any Port Vale fan’s mind right now is whether the Valiants can avoid relegation into League Two?
None of us can say that it’s been a strong season, but all of us hope for the same: that Vale can stay up and give it another go next season.
The pivotal game that endangered Vale had to be the match against Sheffield on Wednesday in which the Valiants suffered a 0-3 loss. Though many never expected Vale to beat the Champions, the defeat was still a bitter blow.
That result saw Vale fall back into the relegation zone, and since then it it is looking increasingly difficult for them to crawl back out. Now, with only three games left to play, and the end of season tally looming ever-closer, Vale need to pull something special (or at least something) out of the bag.
The result against Oxford United on Monday really didn’t help matters either. Vale just didn’t look like they were capable of scoring and eventually posted a 2-0 loss at Kassam Stadium. We really could have done with a win to pull us out of the bottom four, but despite a couple of reasonable possibilities, the game looked set after the 14th minute opening goal by John Ruffels.
The only real positive to take from the game was the attitude of the 351 travelling fans who made the away trip. Most of the could be seen right up until the end of the game applauding and chanting “We are staying up!”.
Other than tireless fan dedication, we can also be happy that Swindon also lost their game when a 1-0 defeat against Walsall was settled with a goal in the last five minutes. It at least stopped Swindon from leapfrogging us and kept Port Vale’s hopes of avoiding relegation alive.
We still have a game in hand over Swindon, as well as over sixth from bottom Shrewsbury. Any points picked up would also allow us to pull away from Swindon and narrow the gap on Shrewsbury. They have a better goal difference, so every little bit helps here.
However, manager Michael Brown can’t rely on other teams to lose. Port Vale need to take home at least some points, perhaps four or five, in order to get away from the bottom four. We could really do with a win! The only question is where will the three points come from?
There are three games left this season for Vale. We play at home to Bolton on Saturday, and then we have away games left against Walsall and Fleetwood.
Other than that, we would have to rely on Port Vale’s away games, both of which are against pretty decent teams. Given that Vale have won only one in the last 21 away games, they really would need to pull something out of the bag.
The problem comes from the team’s seeming inability to be able to put a goal away. Not only has the team lost the last four games, but we have done so without scoring a single goal. Brown may wish to mix it up a bit and start with the promising striker Dan Turner, who showed pace and energy as a half-time sub against Oxford. Other than that, we will be relying on a forward line that, let’s face it, has been pretty stagnant for the past few weeks.
The battle to avoid League One relegation looks to take place between Swindon, Bury and Vale, with Coventry and Chesterfield already confirmed to be taking the plunge. Vale’s current form doesn’t look to offer promising results, but the passion of the fans (and hopefully the players!) may be our saving grace. Let us not go down without a fight!
We are staying up!