It certainly hasn’t been a season to remember for Port Vale but they will be hoping to still be a League Two side come the summer, with a chance to regroup and build once more.
The Valiants will be hoping that Notts County continues to fall short of pushing forward in their games and that they fill one of the relegation spots alongside Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield Town, who have recently struggled to pay players’ wages.
Trial and error
Nerves could still be jangling at Vale as they remain in the bottom four even after a long-awaited home victory at the weekend.
Promising talent has come and gone, with recent trialist Lewis McGugan proving himself unable to show talent of the kind he has produced in the Championship over the years: after a short spell with Northampton Town, Port Vale turned to the former Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford midfielder, hoping for an extra bit of spark to their side to help lift them from the drop.
But the 30-year-old failed to impress in training and manager John Askey informed the fans he had not done enough to earn a contract with the League Two side.
Despite a poor showing so far this season, Vale club legend Robbie Earle believes the club should remain optimistic and confident in the future, whatever the outcome of the season.
Can it be done?
Port Vale can, however, take some inspiration from Championship side Reading, who have managed to climb away from the relegation zone in recent weeks. Three wins, a draw and one defeat have propelled Reading three points clear of the relegation zone.
At the time of writing, Championship betting suggested Reading were now outsiders to be relegated at odds of 3/1 with bet365. Two victories over relegation-threatened sides Wigan and Ipswich have helped put further distance between Reading and the drop.
Vale finish their season with a trip to high-flying Bury at Gigg Lane, a fixture they will hope won’t define their season. Bury may well be promoted by then and Vale certainly won’t want to travel to a sell-out crowd celebrating success, with Askey’s side potentially staring non-league football in the face.
There’s still time
However, it is important to remember that time is on their side and it is still in Port Vale’s hands to avoid the drop and remain in League Two for the 2019/20 campaign.
There is still plenty of work for the Valiants to do between now and the end of the season, which is more than likely to come to down to the final few fixtures judging on the campaign so far.