Which direction will Vale’s season go?

Which direction will Vale’s season go?

The next six League One games could be crucial in defining Port Vale’s 2014-15 season.

It’s coming up to a defining point in Vale’s season.

Will the next few weeks help Vale to push for a play-off place in League One? Or will they leave the club fighting a battle against relegation?

Will the next few weeks help Vale to push for a play-off place in League One? Or will they leave the club fighting a battle against relegation?

Michael O’Connor’s nerveless last-minute penalty secured a 2-2 draw at home to Bradford on Saturday and Mark Marshall feels that point could be ‘crucial’ come the end of the season.

But in what way is it going to be crucial?

Despite no wins in three games, and sitting 14th in the table, Vale are closer to the play-offs than the bottom four. Just four points separate Vale from Oldham in sixth, while there is an eight-point gap to the relegation spots.

Now, given Oldham don’t have one of the biggest budgets in League One either, there’s no reason why Vale can’t make up four points on Lee Johnson’s side. Certainly, when you look at the football betting to finish in the top six, Vale are a more attractive price at 28/1 than Oldham at 3/1.

It feels like the next six games could be the key to determining which direction Vale’s season is going to head…

It feels like the next six games could be the key to determining which direction Vale’s season is going to head. Leaders Bristol City are first in that run of fixtures and it is one of four away games Vale will face over the next month or so.

Away from has been the Achilles heel for Robert Page’s side this season. With just three wins away from ValePark, only Gillingham and Crawley have won fewer games on their travels.

It’s a marked contrast to Vale’s home form, which has brought seven wins. Only the top three of BristolCity, Swindon and MK Dons have won more games at home than Vale in the league this season.

After facing Bristol City, the following five games do offer Vale a good chance of picking up some positive results.

Walsall and Doncaster, who Vale play away and at home, respectively, occupy the two places directly above them in the table. There is also a trip to NottsCounty, who are 16th, to take in. Then Oldham come to Vale Park before the six-game sequence ends with a trip to Coventry, who are down in 20th.

There is enough potential in those fixtures for Vale to suggest they can get enough points to make positive progress up the table…

So, there is enough potential in those fixtures for Vale to suggest they can get enough points to make positive progress up the table.

After all, it’s clearly not just Vale who have lacked consistency this season in League One given the compact nature of the division when only five points separate Oldham in sixth from Gillingham in 17th.

Page doesn’t feel he needs to add to his squad at the moment and it’s worth putting his trust in those players he already has over the next few weeks.

Given that Vale lost five games in a row in the early weeks of the season, it’s an impressive achievement in itself that the play-offs can even be talked about.

It may seem like a long shot, but unfancied teams have done it before. It’s just a case of finding the consistency which has eluded not just Vale, but most of the teams in League One.