Saturday, October 27th 2012
The last team you want to play after two poor defeats in a row is one that is second in the league and that has lost just once on their travels all season. But that’s what faces the Cobblers on Saturday afternoon with Port Vale coming to town in fine form having lost only once in twelve games. Vale also did the double over the Cobblers in the league last season so there’s plenty of cause for concern ahead of a tough, tough match!
Remember, this is a 2pm kick off and not 3pm as the club looks to avoid a direct clash with the Northampton Saints Rugby game that kicks off at 3.
Takeover nears completion…
There were serious concerns for the future of Port Vale Football Club towards the end of last season when a winding up petition meant that they went into administration and suffered from a ten point deduction which would end any realistic hopes for promotion. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though, with the Alchemy Investment Group fronted by Paul Wildes, a Wirrall based businessman, confirmed as the preferred new owner recently.
Pope on top after stunning start to the season…
Vale’s Tom Pope has made a storming start to this season, scoring fourteen times to top the League Two scoring charts after fourteen games. Pope joined the club on a full time basis in 2011 after scoring three times in thirteen games on loan from Rotherham. Last season saw injury put pay to any consistency but he’s really hit the ground running this time around with bags of goals including four in the Valiants’ 6-2 win over his former club in September.
The Cobblers welcomed back Danny East on Tuesday night with the right back coming in for the newly injured Chris Hackett at right back. John Johnson looks likely to sit out again whilst Ben Harding is still a couple of weeks away after a further set back this week. Luke Guttridge and David Artell are out until the New Year with Nana still a while away from fitness as well after more than a year on the sidelines.
Port Vale are without Richard Duffy who was injured at Burton on Tuesday evening with Adam Yates filling in for him at right back. The central defensive positions are causing the big headache for manager Mickey Adams with the experience of Gareth Owen and the more youthful Joe Davis vying to fill the gap left by the suspended Clayton McDonald.
Injured Cobblers defender David Artell was involved in a controversial summer transfer to the Cobblers after signing for Vale a few weeks earlier but turning down a fresh contract handed to him by the club’s administrators.
Previous Six Meetings…
25/02/12: Cobblers 1-2 Port Vale (League Two)
John McCombe put Vale in front in the last meeting between the sides back in February before Sean Rigg added a second just before the hour mark. Bayo Akinfenwa struck late but it wasn’t enough to avoid a double league defeat to Vale last season.
14/10/11: Port Vale 3-0 Cobblers (League Two)
A horror show of a first half saw the Cobblers three goals down inside twenty five minutes in the first meeting last season thanks to goals from Tom Pope, Anthony Griffith and John McCombe and we had no answer in the second half.
12/02/11: Port Vale 1-1 Cobblers (League Two)
Abdul Osman was sent off for the second time in the season against Vale but the Cobblers held out for a point earned a few minutes prior to the red card thanks to an equaliser from Leon McKenzie. Justin Richards’ penalty had given Vale the lead but McKenzie swooped three minutes later to clinch a draw.
13/11/10: Cobblers 0-0 Port Vale (League Two)
Stale mate at Sixfields with Abdul Osman sent off just after half-time.
06/03/10: Port Vale 1-3 Cobblers (League Two)
As the Cobblers made a late surge towards the playoff places in 2010, this was a crucial win against one of the teams chasing the same goal. Ultimately neither side made it but it was still a memorable away day with Bayo Akinfenwa giving us the lead. Doug Loft equalised but Abdul Osman and Billy McKay won it before the break.
12/12/09: Cobblers 1-1 Port Vale (League Two)
As the 2009/10 season crept towards Christmas, the teams shared the spoils at Sixfields. Marc Richards’ penalty gave him a happy return to his former stomping ground but after John McCombe was sent off just after half-time, Bayo converted the spot kick to grab a point for Town.
The Man in the Middle…
In charge at Sixfields on Saturday will be Richard Clark, who was working in the Blue Square Premier League last season. So far he has shown fifteen yellow cards and two reds in his maiden season in the Football League.
With a couple of defeats on the bounce coming into this one there’s a bit of extra pressure and we need to stop the rot before it gets anything like last seasons’ shambles of an October/November run. Aidy Boothroyd has a tough job on his hands to get his players firing again and I think the best we can get out of a high flying Vale side is a hopeful draw. 2-2.