James Russell says that at least Vale’s fate is in their own hands and a win at Graham Westley’s Barnet would be a huge step in the right direction.
James Russell writes…
Vale travel to north London to face bottom club Barnet in a massive relegation six-pointer at The Hive Stadium on Saturday. Graham Westley’s men are bottom of the table but still harbour hopes of clawing their way to survival after securing an impressive 1-0 win away at Colchester last time out. Vale are six points clear of Barnet, but still marooned in 22nd place and looking in serious trouble after failing to record a single victory in 2018. Relegation rivals Chesterfield and Morecambe both secured unexpected victories in their last games and the battle to remain in the Football League is becoming extremely nerve-wracking.
The battle to remain in the Football League is becoming extremely nerve-wracking…
The bookmakers offer some solace for worried fans: Barnet are the odds-on favourites to go down, while Chesterfield are also still odds-on to join them and that’s despite both teams securing three points last weekend. Make sure to check sportsbetting.ag for odds and find the best prices on the market and you will see that the teams, most likely to be usurped by that duo are Crewe, Forest Green, Morecambe, Grimsby and Yeovil. The same odds show Port Vale are longer odds to be relegated, suggesting they will have more than enough quality to get themselves out of trouble. The bookies are not often wrong.
But in order to prove them right, Vale need to start beating the teams below them and around them, and Barnet would be a perfect place to start. The Bees have the worst home record in the league, with eight defeats in 17 games. During that time they have only conceded 21 goals, but they have been let down by their lack of prowess in front of goal. Fifteen goals in 17 home games is a pretty dismal return and it must have been a frustrating season for their fans. Vale have not exactly been great on the road – they have only picked up four wins and have a -10 goal difference – but they are by no means the worst away team in the league.
Vale have not exactly been great on the road… but they are by no means the worst away team in the league…
Vale beat Barnet 1-0 at Vale Park earlier in the season courtesy of a Tom Pope penalty, and they will likely be forced to grind out another narrow victory if they are to take three points on Saturday. Pope might need a hernia operation and manager Neil Aspin said the other forwards need to show they can step up in his absence. “You can dress things up but I would have to say, without being disrespectful, there are a lot of forward players at the club who have to do more, have not done enough this season and who have got to start doing more in terms of chipping in with goals and work rate and effort,” he said. “Surely they have to look to themselves and think ‘why am I not getting in the team when we have a 32-year-old striker playing on one leg?’ “The onus has to be down to other strikers at the club to start producing some performances in training, but more importantly on the pitch.”
After the game against Barnet, Vale travel to another relegation-threatened club, Grimsby, and they are bookies’ underdogs in both. However, Aspin said they were up for the fight and urged the fans to keep the faith after a long winless run. “Whatever the most loyal and dedicated Port Vale supporter is thinking, it can’t be any worse than I am thinking at the moment,” he said. “It is an awful feeling at the moment because we are not winning games. I feel it worse than anybody else. These two games are absolutely massive games, the players have to show that they are willing to fight and scrap for the club. That is all you can ask.”
Vale fans will agree. Let’s hope things are looking up by Sunday.