Date:Friday August 2 2013
A summer of frustration, disappointment and uncertainty. No, not an Australian batsman facing Graeme Swann, but the feelings of most football fans eagerly awaiting the coming season. In many respects it`s the perfect time of the year. Hope. Optimism. Ambition. All of which usually ends at about 4.45pm of the opening day fixture.
Vale`s return to League One begins against Uwe Rosler`s impressive Brentford, who are expected to be among the favourites for promotion. The Bees suffered a heart-breaking end to the season last year, as they were denied promotion to the Championship not once, but twice. A final day defeat at home to Doncaster Rovers, whose dramatic winner came moments after Marcello Trotta`s missed penalty had denied them at the first opportunity. The all but inevitable play-off final defeat to Yeovil Town followed. Vale supporters will be hopeful that they suffer a similar hangover to the start of this campaign.
Most importantly, Brentford have held on to their prized asset, Rosler himself. The German has proven a shrewd appointment, and his well-organised and attacking side will pose a challenge for most teams over the coming months.
The arrival of Will Grigg from Walsall has added to an already potent front line. Clayton Donaldson, who is known to Vale fans from his time at Crewe, will form an intriguing partnership with the Northern Irishman. However, the loss of goalkeeper Simon Moore to Cardiff City and Harry Forrester to Doncaster Rovers may have weakened the side in those particular areas.
As for Vale. In typical style, who knows what the coming season will bring. Thankfully the mad house antics of recent years seem to have settled. Micky Adams appears to have done well in the transfer market this summer. The arrivals of Chris Lines, Carl Dickinson and Chris Robertson have added some much needed League One experience as well as quality to the ranks. The partnership of Tom Pope and Gavin Tomlin looks a well-balanced one. With Lee Hughes, Louis Dodds and the improving Ben Williamson in reserve, goals shouldn`t be a problem for the Valiants. Keeping them out may be. Vale`s cavalier approach last year proved successful enough, although Adams for a long time struggled to find the solution when sides opted for an additional man in midfield.
The fact that Vale will be unfancied by many may help in that regard. Afforded time and space, Vale have enough pace and attacking quality to hurt sides at this level.
A prosaic, dull, mid table finish may be the order of the day. But who`s betting on that?
Quotes- both managers
Vale boss Micky Adams told the Official Site "Uwe has been backed very well by his Chairman and Directors and he has put together a very formidable squad.
"I watched them against Cardiff City on Tuesday night and for the first fifteen minutes they looked as if they were going to get out-passed, out-played and out-scored.
"But they managed to grind their way back into the game and ended up eventually winning it against a Premier League side so that shows you the quality that they possess.
"They are second favourites and that says it all, we are up against it on Saturday, I would expect Brentford to be there or thereabouts in the automatic positions, not the play-offs at the end of the season."
Brentford manager Uwe Rosler commented, "We are going to a very difficult place. I wouldn't have chosen a newly promoted team on the
first day away from home.
Home team news
Micky Adams must make a decision on the fitness of Daniel Jones who has only recently returned to training. Should the former Sheffield Wednesday man be passed fit, it is likely to mean a Vale debut at centre half for Carl Dickinson. Gavin Tomlin should partner Tom Pope in a new look strike force, while Doug Loft could be preferred to Kaid Mohamed on the left of midfield.
Possible Team: Neal, Yates, Robertson, Dickinson, Jones, Myrie-Williams, Griffith, Lines, Loft, Pope, Tomlin.
Player to watch
All eyes will be on that man Tom Pope. Can he repeat last season`s record breaking feats at a higher level? Given his current form, few would bet against him being among the leading scorers in the division.
Away team news
Tony Craig is a doubt though Brentford have a number of signings who could feature including Alan McCormack, George Saville on loan from Chelsea and Ben Nugent on loan from Cardiff City.
Player to watch
The striker impressed when scoring for Walsall against the Valiants in last season`s JPT fixture. After turning down a new four year deal to stay with the Saddlers, Grigg opted for a move south where he is sure to be one of the strikers to watch this season.
Matthew Parry and Andy Scregg
Fourth Official Tom Nield
An entertaining start to the season. Tom Pope and Gavin Tomlin to score Vale`s goals in a 2-2 draw.
Walsall (League Cup) Tuesday 6th August 7.45pm
Date:Friday August 2 2013
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