There’s usually not much to talk about after a Football League Trophy game but this season has proved somewhat different for Port Vale, says Rob Fielding.
Rob Fielding writes…
After the win over Shrewsbury Town, the talk was of new striker Jordan Archer after an impressive display as sub. Now, the game against Macclesfield, the first Vale away win in months, has provided even more talking points.
Not only have Vale come away with six points but they’ve allowed key players to have a rest and given game time to squad players…
- Firstly, there was the impressive displays of Scott Burgess (pictured above) and Shaun Brisley, both making their full debuts and looking very comfortable. On this showing, both will certainly add strength to the Port Vale bench and could even push for starting places.
- Secondly, there was a goal and another impressive display from loanee Jake Taylor, playing in a more advanced role than usual.
- Thirdly, there was the sight of James Gibbons, who barely featured last season, showing his trademark surges down the flank while wearing the captain’s armband. It shows how rapidly Gibbons’ status has risen this season.
- There was the welcome return of Manny Oyeleke and a brief cameo from teenager Alex Hurst (who due to the rules of this competition was able to play despite being loaned out to Bradford Park Avenue).
- And finally, it’s worth noticing that Vale didn’t suffer after first-choice players David Worrall, Nathan Smith and Leon Legge were rested.
All of the above shows that the squad rotations that the Valiants have employed in this competition have worked. Not only have Vale come away with six points but they’ve allowed key players to have a rest and given game time to squad players (who in most cases have grabbed the opportunity with both hands).
In many respects it has been the perfect result for John Askey. Vale now have squad players with match time, they have £20,000 banked from winning the games and they have the confidence from an away win – all this was possible thanks to excellent squad management from John Askey. It would be easy to keep key figures like Worrall in the side (risking injury and tiring them out) but bringing in the likes of Burgess allowed them to take the opportunity, show their worth and no doubt boost their confidence. It may be a much-derided competition but Vale have already taken a lot of positives out of this season’s Football League Trophy competition.