Back To Basics?
Following Vale`s 2-0 defeat to Exeter City last night, their second successive at home, is it now time for Micky Adams to go 'back to basics`? Whilst this stage of the season was always likely to see some nerves develop, there is little doubt that Vale aren`t showing anywhere near the same fluency and attacking threat that they have posed for much of the season. The arrival of Darren Purse and Daniel Jones has undoubtedly provided more solidity to the back four, but key members of the team are distinctly underperforming at present.
The January signings led Adams to state that he now possessed a squad he could rotate for specific games. However, there has been little evidence of this. One man who must be left scratching his head is Louis Dodds, who was instrumental in much of Vale`s play over the first half of the season. Despite the predatory goal scoring instincts of Lee Hughes or the industry of Calvin Andrew, Vale have looked increasingly disjointed in attack. Even the prolific Tom Pope has seen his goals dry up of late. Whether, that has been a lack of quality service, a sign of fatigue, or the fact that he is no longer playing alongside either Dodds or Ben Williamson, both of whom provide something different, is open for debate.
Certainly, the Vale have struggled to break teams down at home and have often been overrun in midfield, something that once again happened last night. Quite what the analysis of Exeter City that the Vale staff watched on their trip home on Saturday, who knows. Maybe it was a pirate copy. Perhaps the Vale boss would like to spend less time having a pop at supporters, something he was very keen to do without invitation in the aftermath of the win at Torquay United. Given the drop in form of Ashley Vincent, a tinker with the personnel, if not the formation, may be in order. The Valiants still have promotional rivals Burton Albion, Cheltenham Town and Northampton Town to play at Vale Park, as well as Southend United and Bradford City, something that may not be seen as positive given the club`s excellent away record. Vale aren`t the only side suffering from the same disease though. Both Gillingham and Rotherham United have much better away records than at home.
The play-off spots are now becoming increasingly congested, though the Vale remain in second spot, two points behind leaders Gillingham ahead of Saturday`s trip to Oxford United.