It’s the old rivals as Port Vale hope to carry on their fine recent form with a League victory at Vale Park…
Vale will have to play this game without influential players – midfielder Luke Joyce (pictured right) and forward David Worrall. Rhys Browne, who scored in the midweek Football League Trophy win over Mansfield Town, is favourite to take over from Worrall while Callum Evans or Scott Burgess could come in for Joyce. Tom Pope is expected to remain up front after his hat-trick against Cheltenham Town in the FA Cup.
Shaun Brisley will miss the game after picking up an injury in midweek. Brisley’s absence leaves Vale short of cover in centeral defence with Kieran Kennedy on loan at Wrexham and Adam Crookes still injured.
The two teams last met in the Football League Trophy in 2018 when Vale triumphed 2-1 thanks to goals from Scott Quigley and Danny Pugh (pictured right). The last league meeting was in 2017 when Vale won 1-0 at Walsall thanks to a strike from Chris Eagles. In terms of home fixtures, Vale have failed to win the last three games. The historical record is even worse with Vale having 24 wins to Walsall’s 41 and there have been 26 draws.
Manager Darrell Clarke took over in March 2019 and has a 33% win ratio. The leading scorer in the League is James Clarke with three goals. Walsall have won just twice away from home this season. A recent run of six straight league losses ended with a win over Cambridge United in mid-November and the club have since picked up a draw against Stevenage. However, away from home they have lost their last three fixtures.
Defender Zac Jules who had a brief loan spell with the Valiants last season, could line up against his former club. Jules was signed from Macclesfield Town in the summer. Another connection with the Vale is manager Darrell Clarke who had a loan spell with the Valiants which included a whole sixty seconds of playing time (his sole appearance being an 89th minute substitute). Other players to appear for both clubs in recent years include defender Dean Smith (right), midfielder Romaine Sawyers and defenders Kris Taylor and Ben Purkiss.
“To win two cup competitions in the space of three or four days is good, and we will move on to the league which really is the most important thing. It’s just pleasing that the feel-good factor has remained from the beginning of the season and hopefully it will continue to the end…
Port Vale manager John Askey (right)
In September 1986, Port Vale finally ended one of the biggest losing streaks in the club’s history. Playing a ‘fluent, passing game’, Vale defeated Walsall, who had not lost in the previous twenty one meetings – a run stretching back to 1965. The Vale scorers that day were Andy Jones (2), Jon Bowden (pictured celebrating his goal right) and Robbie Earle as the Valiants won 4-1 in front of a crowd of 4,531.