Port Vale v Exeter City: the injury-hit Valiants return to Vale Park for a tough game against fifth placed Exeter City. It’s an injury-ravaged attack (Vale) versus a leaky defence (Exeter). Who will prevail? Here’s our preview…
Port Vale v Exeter City, League Two
Vale Park Stadium
Saturday 18th December, 3pm
Last time we met?
24 Vale wins, 11 draws and 19 defeats.
Thinking of going?
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For sure, three points from our game at Port Vale on Saturday would see us moving in the right direction again. Of course, that will be easier said than done – Darrell Clarke’s side sit two places above us in third in the table, having lost just twice at Vale Park so far this season – but there are grounds for optimism; they lost their last game at Newport and are engulfed in an injury crisis which has decimated their forward line…
Exeter City captain Matt Jay
I am really looking forward to it. The Vale fans were fantastic with me for three years. I can’t thank them enough, they were brilliant with me right from the day I signed. Even this week I have had some lovely messages saying they are looking forward to seeing me. It’s just a shame the way the last year ended and I didn’t get to play in front of them…
Exeter City player coach Scott Brown
We will be looking to bounce back against Exeter. We will put a team out that the gaffer thinks can win the game and we will give it a right good go. We had two defeats on the bounce and people started asking questions. We reacted from that. So, we have already proved it, but we will keep proving it, and we will prove it for the rest of the season…
Port Vale captain Tom Conlon
Valiants team news
Will any of the players on the Port Vale injury list return? Manager Darrell Clarke doesn’t want to give the opposition any clues so he’s remaining tight-lipped about who is out and who may be in.
Jamie Proctor, James Wilson, George Lloyd are all definitely out but the status of David Amoo, Devante Rodney and David Worrall is less clear. If none are available then it would again mean midfielder Ben Garrity continuing as make-shift striker with youth teamer Eden Bailey on the bench as the only fit central forward at the club.
One player who will be missing is defender Dan Jones, pictured, who will be serving a three match ban after being dismissed against Newport County. Depending on injuries elsewhere, Vale are likely to select one of Leon Legge, Aaron Martin or Ryan Johnson to replace him.
Opposition team news
Alex Hartridge and Pierce Sweeney both picked up knocks are expected to be ruled out for several weeks, so they both miss this game. Sam Stubbs and Jonathan Grounds are expected to deputise.
One to watch: captain Matt Jay is again in prolific form. Having netted 20 goals last season, he is already on eleven this campaign.
Man in charge: Matt Taylor
- Age: 39
- Games in charge: 187
- Win ratio: 42%
Appointed to his first managerial role in 2018, Taylor also made over 150 appearances as a player for the club.
With such a lengthy injury list, it is perhaps not surprising that Vale’s recent form has been somewhat patchy of late.
Form (all competitions):
Top scorer (all competitions):
Proctor, Wilson, Garrity (7)
Exeter are also undergoing a poor run of form with just one win in their last six matches and five League games without a win.
Form (all competitions) :
Top scorer (all competitions):
Veteran Valiants defender Aaron Martin will be hoping to feature against a club where he played for two years and which included a play-off final defeat in 2020. Martin made 72 appearances for Exeter, between 2018 and 2020, scoring five goals.
Martin was Darrell Clarke’s fourth signing of the summer. After a slow start to his Port Vale career, Martin now has made fifteen appearances and scored twice for Darrell Clarke’s side. The 32 year-old is also closing on 350 senior appearances, having started his playing career back in 2007.
There’s also a veteran on the Exeter side with a strong Vale connection. Goalkeeper Scott Brown was released in the summer following a popular three year stay and has now joined Exeter as goalkeeping coach. Brown could well be on the Exeter bench for this game.
Vintage connection: Port Vale physio Chris Banks had playing spells with both clubs. The locally-born player made his way to the Vale first-team through the junior ranks and he totalled 87 appearances for the Valiants during a four year professional spell. He left the Valiants to join Exeter in 1988 for a year’s spell before he left for a lengthy career at Cheltenham Town.
From the archives
Match action from back in 2018…
Exeter City FC was formed from two predecessor clubs, Exeter United FC and St Sidwell’s United in 1904. Exeter City were invited by the Football League to become founder members of the Third Division in 1920. Their spell in the League lasted until 2003 when they dropped into the Conference. They returned to the Football League in 2008 and have been in League Two since 2012.
Were you paying attention?
Here’s a quick quiz on the opponents:
- Who is the current Exeter City manager?
- Who is Exeter’s current top scorer?
- In what year did Exeter enter the Football League?
- What was the score when the two sides last met?
Quiz answers (no cheating):
- Matt Taylor
- Matt Jay
- Port Vale 1-0 Exeter City