Port Vale only just escaped relegation last season and the side’s early season form points to a similarly long struggle to stay in League Two. But despite a string of poor results, Vale has not been blown away by any team in the league yet.
But, Neil Aspin may already be looking ahead at some difficult matches throughout the season where the squad will have to step up in order to potentially avoid heavy defeats.
The two matches against Lincoln City may therefore prove to be the most difficult league games for Port Vale…
It was a different story in the first round of the Football League Cup as Lincoln City thrashed the Valiants 4-0, and the Imps currently sit at the top of the table. The two matches against Lincoln City may therefore prove to be the most difficult league games for Port Vale.
According to sports betting websites, Lincoln City and MK Dons are favourites to win the league. Port Vale sit much lower on the odds charts with 51 odds to win the league. If the bookies are anything to go by, Port Vale will struggle against the top teams.
MK Dons were relegated from League One last season, but many believe the team will bounce right back up to the higher league. Port Vale will first face the Dons on October 2nd, and the home outing will be a big game for Vale.
A positive result against promotion favourites could build some momentum and help pull Port Vale out of the depths of the League Two table. In the same vein, a heavy defeat could have a knock-on effect for the rest of the season, and the Valiants could then find themselves in a difficult relegation battle.
About two weeks later, Port Vale have a home game against Lincoln City. The two games against the top two teams in the league come in quick succession and the Port Vale players will need to be focused and fit if they want to secure results against both teams. Every point is vital for Port Vale, especially if a relegation battle is possibly on the cards again.
Aspin has expressed a desire for an immediate upturn in immediate results, and he has previously said that his side “need a result” against Forest Green. The side did at least earn a draw which was an improvement on some of their poor away results.
The Vale boss emphasised confidence as a key to improving the results on the pitch. Confidence will also need to be high when his squad potentially enters a rough patch in the schedule in the coming weeks.
In terms of creating more scoring opportunities, Aspin is struggling to come up with a winning combination up front. Captain Tom Pope has proven to be irreplaceable, so it’s elsewhere in the team where the right players need to come in to support the targetman. Pope has struggled with fitness at time, but when he is fit he is undoubtedly Vale’s best option up top. The current record goalscorer at Vale Park is a certain starter.
The main contenders appear to be Louis Dodds and Ricky Miller but the latter missed the majority of the pre-season and will need to be used carefully to avoid picking up an injury. Scott Quigley scored for the reserves but he is arguably more of a deputy for Pope rather than a striking partner.
With his starting partner in doubt, Vale may need plenty of Vale Park goals from the locally born striker if the team hopes to turn around their fortunes. And, if he could poach a couple against MK Dons or Lincoln City, the Valiants may shock some League Two viewers.
However, for the time being, Neil Aspin and his side will have to take it one game at a time, and they will turn their attention to their next opponents. With some confidence going into the big matches, hopes will be high that Tom Pope can continue his goal-scoring form and fire Port Vale to safety.