Port Vale v Walsall. The Valiants will be looking to bounce back against Darrell Clarke’s former side. Here’s our match preview…
Port Vale v Walsall, League Two
Vale Park stadium
Tuesday 23rd November, 7.30pm
Last time we met?
It was a disappointing 2020-21 campaign for the Valiants against Walsall. The home fixture ended in a 3-1 loss while the game at the Bescot stadium also ended in a loss – a hugely disappointing 4-3 defeat.
24 Vale wins, 27 draws and 44 defeats.
When you lose on a Saturday, the best thing to happen is a game on the Tuesday. You have no time to think about the game from the weekend. I prefer it. They (Walsall) are always good games and always a good atmosphere. They are only down the road so I expect them to bring a big crowd and I expect the home fans to be as loud as they have been all season, and it’s under lights as well…
Port Vale defender James Gibbons
Valiants team news
Defender Nathan Smith returns after suspension and it’s entirely possible he will come straight into the back-line after the defence shipped three goals at the weekend. Dan Jones and Lewis Cass have been regulars at the back so it’s likely Smith would replace Aaron Martin.
There could also be changes elsewhere. The most obvious ones look to be – a decision between Ben Garrity and Jake Taylor in midfield and who partners the impressive David Amoo upfront – with the contenders Devante Rodney, George Lloyd and Dennis Politic.
Top scorers James Wilson and Jamie Proctor both miss out through injury.
Opposition team news
Former Port Vale full-back Zak Mills is unlikely to face his former club as he is currently injured. However, the opposition will be boosted by the return of forward Connor Wilkinson who made his return in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Rochdale. Liam Kinsella also appeared in that game after a spell out.
One to watch: loanee George Miller is the top scorer with seven although he’s without a goal in his last five games.
Man in charge: Matt Taylor
- Age: 39
- Games in charge: 22
- Win ratio: 32%
The former midfielder, who had notable spells with Luton, Bolton, West Ham and Portsmouth was appointed in June 2012, his first managerial job.
The dramatic loss to Oldham at the weekend brought a seven game unbeaten run to an end. However, Vale’s home form remains formidable with an eight game unbeaten run.
Proctor, Wilson (7)
Visitors Walsall have won just once in their last five League games. However, worryingly they have won on their last four visits to the Vale Park stadium.
Well, where can we start but with the current Port Vale manager. Darrell Clarke was signed after Port Vale agreed a compensation package with Walsall midway through last season. It seems to be money well spent as Clarke took the club on an epic six game winning streak in 2021, revamped the squad over the summer and currently boasts an impressive 47% win ratio.
Clarke spent two years at Walsall where he didn’t enjoy as much success. He was in charge for 76 games with a 31% win ratio although his cause probably wasn’t helped by the sale of key forward Elijah Adebayo in February.
In terms of players, Walsall’s squad also contains former Port Vale full-back Zak Mills although he’s unlikely to be involved due to injury. Mills moved to Walsall in the summer after being released by Clarke.
Also absent could be Port Vale full-back Mal Benning, currently out of the Valiants matchday squad. Benning was signed by Clarke in the summer following his departure from Mansfield Town.
Powerful striker Bernie Wright had spells with both clubs. Wright began his career with Walsall before a move to top-flight Everton in 1972. However, he returned to Walsall just a year later and went on to accrue 176 appearances for the club, scoring 46 goals.
Wright joined the Valiants from Bradford City in 1978 and was top-scorer at the end of the 1978-79 season. He was also voted the club’s player of the year. He was less prolific the following season but finished a two year Vale stay with 24 goals from 81 games.
The striker finished his nine year playing career with 87 goals from 357 appearances.
From the archives
You may want to revisit our feature on Port Vale’s win over Walsall back in 1986 which ended a run of 28 games without victory:
The club was founded in 1888 as Walsall Town Swifts, an amalgamation of Walsall Town and Walsall Swifts. They were invited to join the Football League in 1892 but lost their place for twenty years in 1901. They were invited back with the formation of the Football League Division Three North in 1921. Walsall have won promotion eight times as well as finishing runners-up in the Football League Trophy.
After 94 years at Fellows Park, the club moved to the Bescot stadium in 1990. The new stadium cost £4.5m to construct.
Were you paying attention?
Here’s a quick quiz on the opponents:
- Which former Vale defender joined Walsall in the summer?
- Who is the current Walsall manager?
- When were Walsall founded?
- How much did the Bescot stadium cost?
Quiz answers (no cheating):
- Zak Mills
- Matt Taylor