Rob Fielding shares his thoughts after Port Vale’s narrow home win over Salford City at the weekend.
Agree or disagree? Click the button at the bottom to add a comment to this feature…
Thank goodness for Scott Brown
His crucial contributions may only occur for a few minutes each game but what a huge influence Scott Brown has on the Vale results! On Saturday, he saved a penalty and made a superb second-half save but he’s done similar things in other games this season. It must be a massive boost for the Vale defence to have such a colossus behind them.
Fingers crossed that the injury list goes down
It was noticeable that Vale named only six subs for this game. The Valiants are already missing James Gibbons and Zak Mills for some weeks while Manny Oyeleke, David Amoo and Mark Cullen have also had knocks recently. However, for this game, Harry McKirdy and Alex Hurst were also missing which left John Askey with a limited number of options. Fortunately for Vale, player versatility meant the absences were not felt too keenly and Vale still had options on the bench. However, any more knocks and things will become stretched.
Fitzpatrick shows his quality
He got a bit of stick early on and that was probably due to a number of factors (gaining match fitness, fitting in to a new team and teammates) but David Fitzpatrick had a good game on Saturday. He’s strong defensively but he also showed he could add something further up the pitch. For me, the Vale defence looks a stronger unit with Fitzpatrick on the left and Cristian Montano played further up.
Lack of cutting edge still a worry
Mark Cullen missed this one with a calf injury but Vale still had three forwards to pick from. Each comes with their own pluses and minuses. For this game, Devante Rodney started but failed to really make an impact in the centre. Tom Pope probably didn’t get the nod due to a lack of match fitness while it may have been a similar story for Theo Robinson who missed summer pre-season training. Of the three available players, Robinson made the most impact with his cross setting up the goal but what John Askey will surely want is for one of the trio to start making an impact with their own goals.
Montano adds a useful goal threat
While Vale may still be struggling in the centre forward position, the deployment of Cristian Montano in an advanced role paid dividends. With Vale struggling for goals, Montano is an interesting one… His goalscoring record for Vale is decent with 14 goals in 110 games. Considering he didn’t get any at all last season when he played the majority of his 36 games in defence, it’s a good record. If Vale are looking for goals elsewhere in the side, Montano may help in this regard.
Would earlier changes have helped?
It’s fair to say that Vale were getting somewhat overwhelmed in the second period and Devante Rodney (whose time will come) looking a little lost in a central role. So, it was a little perplexing that John Askey didn’t make his first change until 79 minutes in. This time it worked with a late winning goal but it won’t always be the case. If things aren’t working perhaps it’s time to gamble and make some earlier switches?