Can Port Vale brush off late disappointment at Leyton Orient and continue their good form at Vale Park?
The return of midfielder Manny Oyeleke (right) was short-lived after he was subbed just nine minutes into the Leyton Orient draw. It means that youngsters Scott Burgess and Jake Taylor, who have both scored in their last two games, are likely to line-up in the midfield on Saturday with new signing Will Atkinson as another option. James Gibbons will also miss the game through suspension so it’s likely that Kieran Kennedy will deputise at right-back. The game is too soon for Tom Conlon and Callum Evans but Rhys Browne and Mark Cullen may both be in contention.
Big game for…
With James Gibbons injured, this is potentially an opportunity for Kieran Kennedy to come into the first-team reckoning. Kennedy is favourite to slot in at right-back. The former Wrexham man has been restricted to just three appearances this season – with the 26 year-old also netting an own-goal to boot. A strong performance on Saturday will probably do his confidence the power of good…
The match at Vale Park between the two sides ended in a disappointing 1-0 home loss for the Valiants back in February 2019. It was a match marked by protests against owner Norman Smurthwaite (right). Earlier in the season it had ended 2-2 at Morecambe with Vale scoring goals through Antony Kay and Tom Pope.
Overall, the two sides have met sixteen times with Vale winning five, losing six and drawing five. However, Vale have a dreadful home record against Morecambe having failed to win their last four fixtures.
Vale will face the Football League’s longest-serving manager when Jim Bentley visits Vale Park on Saturday. The former defender is closing in on nine years in charge and has managed the club for over 400 games. The club captain is midfielder Alex Kenyon who has made over two hundred appearances for the side since joining from Stockport County. Vale will also have to contend with veteran Kevin Ellison, now forty years of age but still a regular starter for the club. Ellison has now gone past a hundred career goals. Upfront, Lewis Alessandra, once linked with a move to Vale, is this season’s top-scorer with five goals.
The Valiants will face former striker AJ Leitch-Smith (right), who spent a year with the Valiants between 2015 and 2016. Leitch-Smith impressed enough on trial to be handed a permanent Vale deal and finished with twelve goals by the end of the season. However, he rejected a new Vale contract and joined Shrewsbury Town in the summer of 2016. Leitch-Smith joined Morecambe in 2018 and has six goals from 34 appearances.
There was a memorable 7-2 home victory for the Valiants back in April 2011 when both Louis Dodds and Justin Richards (right) scored hat-tricks. Marc Richards scored the game’s other goal which was played out in front of a crowd of 4,134.
We’ve got a home game coming up, if we win that then it puts us in a reasonable position, at the moment it can go one way or the other, but at the moment we’re hoping we’re going to be looking up the table trying to get into the play-off position….
Port Vale manager John Askey (right)
At home Port Vale boast a 69% pass completion rate compared to 66% away from Vale Park. Rhys Browne (right) has the best pass completion at Vale Park at 94.4%