Opinion by Malcolm Hirst. Recent games have shown Vale to be a “chalk and cheese” team and it’s vital Vale approach the game against Bristol Rovers in the right manner.
Malcolm Hirst writes…
Port Vale’s performances over the last two matches lend themselves to the idiom of “chalk and cheese”. I left the Gillingham match deflated because of the cruelty of the Gills’ goal robbing us of two much needed points, but buoyed by a performance that gave a semblance of hope that we might avoid relegation.
However, as positive as the performance was on Saturday, Tuesday’s was a huge negative. On Saturday, the players looked motivated, showed good movement, and were first to the ball and deserved a win rather than the draw we walked away with. But Tuesday night at Millwall saw a collection of individuals who, at times, seemed incapable of executing the simplest of football skills, and whom (from the stand at least) did not look up for a relegation battle. The lack of perceived passion and fight was the most disturbing aspect of Tuesday night and I left the New Den deflated but this time with very little hope that Vale will be playing in League One next season.
It is difficult to compare the two matches, you might say we are comparing chalk and cheese? Millwall are a team on the up, playing with confidence, Gillingham are a team on the slide with a new and inexperienced manager.
The match this Saturday is going to give a good indication as to which league Vale will be playing in next year. Bristol Rovers are ranked 23rd in the away-form table conceding 15 goals in their last six matches. A win is a must, if we fail to defeat a side with such a poor current away record then it’s hard to see where we will get the 16-18 points needed to reach safety.
On Saturday afternoon I hope to see more passion as a minimum. I hope to see us play with a flat 4-4-2 rather than the diamond as I don’t think our full backs (apart from the currently out of favour Kiko) are dynamic enough to play this way. The Rovers match could be the defining moment of the final third of the season.
A win will give hope that we can win the critical matches against teams at the bottom or mid-league. A loss won’t send us down, but the fans will be wondering if the players and the management team are capable of securing League One football.