234 minutes without conceding – this is Vale’s best defence in years

234 minutes without conceding – this is Vale’s best defence in years

OVF Editor Rob Fielding would like to sing the praises of Port Vale’s defence this season.

Rob Fielding writes…

At the start of the summer, many Vale fans felt that a defence containing Remie Streete and Ryan Inniss would be great – but was likely to be a pipedream.

It could be argued that Vale’s mean backline has been the star of the season so far…

Now, six games into the season and with not only Inniss and Streete part of the Vale defence but new signings Jak Alnwick and Ben Purkiss proving their worth and old stagers Richard Duffy and Carl Dickinson bang on form, it could be argued that Vale’s mean backline has been the star of the season so far.

Certainly the stats make impressive reading – it’s been 234 minutes since Vale conceded in open play – and 120 of those were against West Brom and strikers such as £12m Jose Rondon, £10m Brown Ideye and £3m England International Rickie Lambert.

Since the start of the season, Vale have conceded just three goals in six games – or just one goal every other game…

Since the start of the season, Vale have conceded just three goals in six games – or just one goal every other game. It’s the club’s most parsimonious start since 2006-2007 and providing the team don’t concede twice against Bradford, Vale could better it this weekend.

So, where’s it all come from? I believe it’s a number of factors:

I think Vale now have a better quality of player in their defence. Vale have such strength that they can cope with the loss of Chris Neal through injury and allow squad players such as Adam Yates to go out on loan.

The quality on offer has also led to competition for places. The form of Richard Duffy is keeping new signing Streete on the bench while skipper Carl Dickinson is also in far better form than last season. In goal, new signing Jak Alnwick has leapfrogged Sam Johnson in the pecking order but knows he has to keep performing to keep his place when the likes of Neal regain football.

Credit has to go to Rob Page and his coaching staff. The likes of Alnwick and Inniss both arrived late in the summer yet Vale’s defence still looks a fit, well drilled and confident unit.

I’d also like to add another reason for Vale’s solid backline – the superb form of Anthony Grant…

I’d also like to add another reason for Vale’s solid backline – the superb form of Anthony Grant, who acts as link between defence and midfield, bringing the ball forward in attacks and acting as an extra barrier when Vale are on the defensive.

I suppose the big question now is – can Vale continue to build on their excellent unbeaten start to the league season? I personally think we’ll know a lot more about this side when ten games have been played, but many a team has found success based on a solid defence so there are many reasons to be optimistic at Vale Park right now.