It’s arguably the most important game of the year – how will Port Vale fare against Grimsby?
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It’s been the same thing all week – Port Vale players need to step up to the plate in the absence of top-scorer Tom Pope (right)
Forward Ben Whitfield pulled no punches by calling it the biggest game of the year and arguably this game and the following away trip to Barnet will define Vale’s season.
The club have even trained at St George’s Park in preparation for this match.
What will the Vale look like?
So who will start upfront for Vale? We suspect that Neil Aspin may opt for two upfront to cover for Pope’s absence. Who will it be?
Well, Tyrone Barnett and Anton Forrester (right) would be the obvious partnership but both have had their injury problems and Aspin has hinted at a place for youngster Dan Turner.
Elsewhere, keeper fit again Rob Lainton may return to the bench while Marcus Harness has impressed in training and could earn a starting spot.
“It’s time now for people to pull their fingers out, and everything will be forgotten if they can produce.
“If someone can score goals, do well, then the supporters will have someone new they can give a hero’s worship, like they do with Tom Pope.
“Some of the players might argue that they haven’t had a run in the team. They’re going to get a run in the team now, and they’ve got to take the chance…”
Town’s brand-new manager is 40 years old and this is his first League management spell. He has previously managed in Sweden for an eighteen game spell but otherwise his experience is limited to spells with Stirling University, Burnley U23 and the Scottish Universities.
- Port Vale wins: 33
- Port Vale losses: 38
- Draws: 17
Vale lost 2-1 earlier in the season thanks to a scintilating performance from Siriki Dembele. Tom Pope scored for the Valiants.
The last away fixture was back in 2011 when it finished 1-0 to the home side.
Vale’s last win at Grimsby was back in 2003 when goals from strikers Billy Paynter and Steve McPhee (right) earned a 2-1 win.
Played for both…
Two former Valiants are in the Grimsby squad.
Striker JJ Hooper (right) has been a regular substitute and has scored three goals.
Winger Sam Kelly has been less involved with just eleven appearances since joining in the summer.