Port Vale v Walsall preview: it’s time for the caretaker’s caretaker as Frank Sinclair takes over from the isolating Danny Pugh. Can Vale dish up a win over their old rivals?
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Teams: Port Vale v Walsall
Competition: League Two
Venue: Vale Park stadium
Kick-off: Saturday 23rd January, 3pm
The Valiants seem to have arrested their awful form but could still do with a home win. In the last four League games, the club has managed two draws and a win. As for the visitors, they are on a poor run and are without a win in their last five matches.
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Port Vale team news:
It was a decent point on the road for a much depleted Vale side. Now even stand-in manager Danny Pugh is out of this game so Vale will be down to ahem… a stand-in, stand-in manager in Frank Sinclair. Will Sinclair switch to the 4-4-2 formation which served Vale well in their last home game? If so, it could mean new signing Kurtis Gurthie who had an impressive cameo as a sub partnering goalscorer Devante Rodney (pictured) in the centre. However, another option is to switch Rodney wide as part of a front three. James Gibbons could come in at right-back while Leon Legge is back from suspension but it remains to be seen if the likes of David Worrall and Cristian Montano are fit to feature. Here’s a guesswork starting XI…
Possible Starting XI:
Brown – Gibbons, Smith, Brisley, Fitzpatrick – Amoo, Taylor, Conlon, Hurst – Rodney, Guthrie
One to watch:
If he’s fit to start, the returning James Gibbons will give Vale a huge boost. The attacking right-back has been missed in recent weeks but is back training and could be selected for this game.
Manager Darrell Clarke (pictured) is a Vale oddity as holder of one of the shortest Port Vale careers on record. On loan from Hartlepool United in 2005 he played a solitary minute as a sub during his stay. In terms of management, Clark cut his teeth at Salisbury City before a spell with Bristol Rovers. He joined Walsall in May 2019 and has now been in charge for 68 games.
Opposition team news
The visitors have added Bournemouth midfielder Frank Vincent to their ranks on a loan deal. Recent signing Jayden Reid could also feature. Rory Holden remains a long-term injury.
Then Shrewsbury Town defender Zak Jules didn’t have the greatest of times when on loan at Port Vale in 2018. He played twice for a total of 141 minutes before he was dropped and didn’t feature again. However, after a successful spell at Macclesfield, the defender joined Walsall where he has now made almost 40 appearances.
Other players who featured for both sides are:
Central defender Dean Smith, (pictured) who is now the manager of Premier League side Aston Villa.
Goalkeeper Keith Ball, who made 130 appearances for Port Vale between 1968 and 1972, winning promotion in 1969.
Left-sided defender Kris Taylor, who made 93 appearances for Walsall and 75 for the Valiants.
Port Vale legend (and father of former Vale manager John) Colin Askey, who was a member of the legendary “Iron Curtain” side, making 2017 appearances for Vale and a further 83 for Walsall.
Last time we met:
An awful defensive performance at the Banks’s stadium saw Port Vale concede four second-half goals as they lost to Walsall. Vale had taken a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to goals from Tom Pope (pictured) and Tom Conlon. However, two quickfire goals saw Walsall level after 56 minutes. Devante Rodney put Vale ahead again only for two more Walsall goals to seal a 4-3 win.
Overall record: 24 Port Vale wins | 43 Port Vale losses | 27 draws
From the archives…
In November 1986, the Valiants finally ended a 21 game losing streak against Walsall that stretched back to 1965. They ended it in style as a “‘fluent, passing game” saw John Rudge’s side triumph 4-1. The goals came from striker Andy Jones (a double) and midfielders Robbie Earle and Jon Bowden. Pictured above is Jon Bowden wheeling away in celebration after his goal. The game was played in front of 4,531 fans. Sadly, normal service was resumed in the away fixture with Vale losing 5-2.
How to watch:
Finally, let’s deal with watching this behind closed doors game. It will be available to watch on the iFollow service. Here’s how to watch it…
Q: Do I have to set up the account/buy the pass on the day of the match?
A: No, you can set up your iFollow account and/or buy your match pass in advance if it is easier. All you need to do then is log onto iFollow on the day of the match go to this page and there will be an option at the bottom to watch live video.
Q: Can I watch it down the pub?
A: No, it’s illegal to show iFollow streams in public so they would be breaking the law. The service is for private use only.
Q: Can I watch it on the TV screen?
A: The iFollow service is available via an app or a browser. Probably the simplest way to watch it on the TV screen is to watch the stream on a browser and connect your computer to your TV via a HDMI lead. The video and audio should then show on your screen.
Q: What about the programme?
A: Ahead of the game Port Vale will also be sending all season ticket holders a link to a complimentary digital copy of our new-look matchday programme! If you do not receive your digital copy by 1pm on Saturday, then please contact us on the numbers provided above. Additionally, if you wish to collect a physical copy of the programme ahead of kick off – please contact the club shop.
Q: What commentary will be provided?
A: Usually commentary from both teams (home and away) is provided. In Vale’s case it is usually the BBC Radio Stoke commentary team. When the match starts, click on the cog on the bottom RH corner to select home or away commentary.
Q: Does Port Vale make money from iFollow?
A: Yes and in these days of behind closed door matches, the revenue from iFollow can be vital. Clubs like Vale earn around 80% of the cost of an iFollow ticket regardless of whether the game is played home or away.
Q: What about if I still have an issue?
A: If you are experiencing problems with iFollow should contact EFL iFollow by telephone – 0207 8264577 (three hours before kick-off and running until three hours after matches finish) or by email – iFollow@efl.com (staffed from 8am to 7pm every day).
Need more information? We have a dedicated forum thread with help and advice right here. There’s also a guide on setting up an iFollow account while here is a guide for season ticket holders redeeming a code