Vital Preview- Vale v Stevenage
The Valiants return to League action looking to extend their recent good run which has seen them within touching distance of the play-off spots.
Vale have lost their previous two League encounters with the visitors. Manager Graham Westley is not universally liked within the game and two of Vale`s side in particular will need little motivation come Saturday. Winger Jennison Myrie-Williams endured a difficult spell at Stevenage under Westley, which has ultimately been to Vale`s benefit. Chris Robertson also struggled for first team opportunities during Westley`s unsuccessful spell at Preston.
Nevertheless, his Stevenage side will be well organised and difficult to break down, especially away from home. A recent win at Peterborough and a couple of improved cup performances suggest that after a slow start, Westley is beginning to exert his influence once more during his second spell with the club. The recent signing of Francois Zoko has made a huge difference, and the Vale defence will need to be at their best to keep the Ivorian at bay.
The Vale boss is fully expecting a tough test against Stevenage despite their slow start to the campaign.
"If you look at the history of Stevenage, and particularly under Graham Westley, I think one year they were in the lower echelons of the league round around Christmas time and came on in a fantastic run in the second half of the season and managed to get promoted under Graham.
"You know what you are going to get. They are going to be up and at you; they are going to make it very difficult for you.
"They have got a physical presence about them, but they have got a sprinkling of players that can cause you problems as well."
Stevenage boss Graham Westley was confident his side would return with the points. "I know Micky, he`s an experienced manager and he`s done a very good job there. He`ll put together - as every manager at this level will - an organised team. A team with a game plan to win. We`ll go there with strong organisation and a game plan to win ourselves and on the afternoon the best team will win.
"They`ve got home advantage which could benefit them. It`s a big pitch, Port Vale. It`s a place I`ve had a lot of joy. We`ve been there and got a decent FA Cup result ourselves and I`ve had a couple of really good wins there. I`m looking forward to going back there. If we get it right on the afternoon we can bring the points home."
Port Vale Team News:
Sam Johnson will continue to deputise for the injured Chris Neal in goal, while captain Doug Loft is still missing owing to a calf strain. Rob Taylor`s impressive performance from the bench during last week`s FA Cup win over Salisbury could put him in contention for a start, though Micky Adams is likely to persist with the same team.
Possible Team: Johnson, Yates, Robertson, Duffy, Dickinson, Birchall, Griffith, Lines, Myrie-Williams, Pope, Tomlin.
Player to watch: Jennison Myrie-Williams
The winger was released by Graham Westley whilst at Stevenage so will have a point to prove to his old boss. Myrie-Williams has been in impressive form of late, and Micky Adams will be hoping for more of the same this weekend.
Stevenage Team News:
Simon Heslop and Filipe Morais are both suspended after collecting five cautions. Darius Charles is missing owing to an ankle injury while Ben Chorley is a doubt.
Possible Team: Day, Smith, Hartley, Ashton, Jones, Doughty, Andrade, Akins, Zoko, Freeman, Wedgbury.
Player to watch: Francois Zoko
The nomadic striker joined from Notts County this summer and has made an immediate impact. The Ivorain has scored 10 times in only 14 appearances after signing in October.
Match Facts & Stats
Vale 1 Stevenage 3
Oh for those halcyon days of Jim Gannon. Summed up by Anthony Griffith`s back pass which bobbled over keeper Chris Martin to set Stevenage on their way to three points.
Last 5 matches:
Vale 4-1 Salisbury 1 (FA Cup)
Walsall 0-2 Vale
Vale 0-2 Preston
Crewe 1-2 Vale
Vale 3-1 Shrewsbury
Swindon 1-1 Stevenage (JPT-Swindon win on Pens)
Stevenage 4-0 Stourbridge (FA Cup)
Stevenage 1-3 Shrewsbury
Gillingham 3-2 Stevenage
Peterborough 0-1 Stevenage
GEOFF ELTRINGHAM Matthew Parry and Neil Radford Fourth Official Bob Roberts
The two sides scrap out a 1-1 draw.
MK Dons (a) 21st December 3pm