>Port Vale are sure to really test the mettle of the reinvigorated Cobblers on Saturday afternoon and Sammo’s men will have to be at their very best to beat a side that’s only lost twice in the league all season and just once on the road. But we should take some hope from the fact that Vale have drawn their last four away from home including a late salvation of their F.A. Cup campaign to hold minnows Dartford Town last weekend.
Winger Lewis Haldane made his first appearance of the season in that game after being struck down by an infection in the summer following an insect bite and his return is being heralded in the Potteries as something to really kick the club on once more.
We need no introduction to Vale’s leading scorer of course with Marc Richards’ ten goals firing them up into the automatic promotion places and his strike partner and namesake Justin Richards isn’t half bad either, with five goals so far. Rico scored at Sixfields last season only for his spot kick to be cancelled out Bayo Akinfenwa’s own penalty and we should expect a similiarly close match this weekend.
The Cobblers, scrapping rather than entertaining for the points at the moment, need to ruffle the feathers early on and not give ourselves too much work to do in coming from behind. This side seem to thrive on being in front and that’s when we’ve played our best football of the season, particularly at places like Lincoln where a crucial win was set up from simply being in front rather than playing catch up.
There’s still plenty left in this season and a point wouldn’t be the end of the world against Vale who will surely be contending for the title come May. Slow progress is the key at the moment and as long as we’re not dragged back to the murky depths of the relegation battle we can be pleased for now!