Vital Preview- Vale v Northampton Town
Vale look to set for a bumper crowd as they bid for promotion against Northampton Town on Saturday. With around 2,000 tickets remaining at the time of writing, the club may well be on course to beat the League Two record this season, which saw 13,461 at Bradford`s midweek defeat to Rotherham United. Incidentally, my brother`s first game as a Vale fan against this weekend`s visitors, when Vale sealed promotion in 1986, attracted a crowd of just 3,786!
Having produced some wonderful attacking football this season, including comprehensive wins against most of their rivals and being in the top two for virtually all of the season, it would unthinkable for Vale to miss out on a spot in League One now.
However, following Vale`s 7-1 thumping of Burton Albion, confidence will be high that the side can perform once more under pressure in front of a large expectant crowd, which should see a real carnival atmosphere inside Vale Park. How times have improved for the better since the arrival of Paul Wildes and Norman Smurthwaite. Such a level of interest in recent fixtures would have been unthinkable at any time during recent years and clearly demonstrates just have far the club have fallen in that time. The chance to seal a first promotion since 1994 has generated a huge amount of interest and excitement.
A series of events could yet see Vale promoted. However, the easiest and simplest way would be for Vale to win on Saturday and finish the job. They can expect a tough test against Aidy Bothroyd`s side though. Northampton sit in fifth spot currently and still have an outside chance of securing automatic promotion. Vale will be mindful of the fact they were well beaten in the reverse fixture, although that game was overshadowed by a horrific injury to Cobblers striker Alex Nicholls. Northampton have endured a poor run at just the wrong time of the season, losing three of their last four games without scoring. A lack of goals has been a major problem for the visitors; however, they are equally as mean spirited in defence. A wretched away record will also hearten Vale supporters, although it is sure to be a nail biting afternoon in the Potteries.
Quotes- both managers
Vale boss Micky Adams told the The Sentinel that his players were well aware of what was at stake, though urged his side to maintain their focus.
"The players have seen the queues for tickets, they've read the papers, they know what it means. We have a fantastic chance to create a bit of history, and I want to make sure we do.
"The motivation is there for everybody, but all I can do is light the blue touch paper. The rest is up to the players. They have to go out and perform."
"We need to stick to the game plan and keep our discipline. We need to keep 11 players on the pitch. We don't need anyone doing something stupid."
Northampton boss Aidy Bothroyd is keen to see his side cement their play-off spot as quickly as possible, although he still harbours hopes of gaining automatic promotion. Speaking to the Northampton Official Site, the former Watford manager stated: "We`ve got our own job to finish off though and whether there is a big crowd on Saturday or not and whether Port Vale are going for promotion or not, we`ve got our own agenda and that is to come back from Port Vale with as many points as we can.
"We are going there to win it and I`m not saying that lightly because it is going to be tough but when you have your toughest games you look for your tough players to come through and I think we have got one or two of those on show.
Home team news
Micky Adams may well be without super sub Ben Williamson who has a knee injury. With Calvin Andrew also set to miss out it reduces Vale`s options from the bench. Ashley Vincent is fit again, however. The Vale boss looks set to name the side that drew with Rochdale last time out.
Possible Team: Neal, Yates, Purse, Chilvers, Jones, Griffith, Loft, Dodds, Pope, Hughes, Myrie-Williams.
Player to watch
Cool heads and experience will be two key characteristics Micky Adams will be looking for. Lee Hughes demonstrated his big credentials with a hat trick in the game against Burton Albion, and with Ben Williamson out through injury, a big performance is needed from the 36 year old.
Away team news
Adebayo Akinfenwa will be fit after shaking of the knock he suffered during the midweek draw at Wycombe. Kelvin Langmead and Clive Platt are both close to full fitness, but may not be risked ahead of a potential play-off schedule. Vale old boy Lee Collins will line up in defence for the visitors.
Possible Team: Nicholls, Widdowson, Collins, Tozer, Carlisle, Guttridge, Harding, Hackett, Hornby, Akinfenwa, O`Donovan.
Player to watch
The burly forward has enjoyed much success with a variety of clubs over the years-especially against the Valiants. Despite a recent barren run, Vale`s defence will no doubt have their work cut out marshalling Akinfenwa.
Northampton Town 2 (Nicholls 20, Moult 43) Vale 0
A miserable afternoon saw Vale slip to a disappointing defeat. John McCombe`s sending off following a challenge on Alex Nicholls resulted in Vale being reduced to ten men and the striker left with a double leg break.
Last five matches:
Rochdale 2-2 Vale
Vale 1-1 Aldershot
Vale 7-1 Burton Albion
Chesterfield 2-2 Vale
Vale 3-2 Cheltenham Town
Wycombe Wanderers 0-0 Northampton
Northampton 0-2 York City
Bradford 1-0 Northampton
Cheltenham 1-0 Northampton
Northampton 1-0 Oxford
Matt McGrath and Tony Peart
Fourth Official Robert Atkin
Vale send home the thousands ecstatic, securing promotion back to League One with a 3-0 win.
Wycombe Wanderers (a) 27/04/2013 3.00pm