Port Vale (A) Match preview:
Saturday 14th November 2020
English Football League Two
This Saturday, Rovers play their fourth game under the leadership of Ian Dawes and Andy PArkinson. So far,the duo have a 100% win record; beating Accrington, Wigan and Harrogate Town in the process. The football played at the moment is of complete contrast to the football that was seen throughout Mike Jackson’s tenure. Tranmere are now playing with a complete sense of freedom, with fluidity and power in the attacking areas, strength and the ability to control games in midfield and the defence has a great ability of keeping clean sheets whilst helping the forwards as they successfully move the ball forwards. However, the team face their biggest test of the season so far, this weekend .. arguably. The ‘super whites’ will travel to Stoke-on-Trent to face play-off candidates Port Vale. A win could put the Merseyside outfit four points away from the play-offs, touching distance with how many games are left to play without finding their new manager. However, a defeat could put them five points away from the relegation places. I believe that the positive outcome will happen, especially with the high quality of performances we have displayed recently.
There are a few absentees, going into this fixture, for Dawes’ and Parkinson’s team. Two full-backs are unavailable; Liam Ridehalgh came off with a groin injury in the midweek fixture and he will require a scan as well as young loanee Lee O’Connor who is on international duty with the Republic of Ireland. Midfielder Paul Lewis returned to light training, late on this week, this means that he is closer to returning yet the upcoming fixture may come too solemn. Forward Stefan Payne is out with a long-term injury, he is in the recovery process of an operation. There is also a slight doubt on another forward getting game time, Morgan Ferrier played a half of the midweek ‘papa johns trophy’ tie, since picking up a ‘long’ term injury at the start of this season.
The hosts this weekend play at Vale Park, which can hold over 19000. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will of course be no fans allowed into the stadium. However, the last time many travelled from Merseyside to Burslem Tranmere were victorious 2-1 on a dark early February night. Hot-shot forward James Norwood scored a brace, in a run that would see Tranmere finish in the play-offs to then be promoted at Wembley. John Askey manages his side at Vale Park, he was appointed a few days before the game that I have described above, replacing Neil Aspin in early February 2019. The 56-year-old, who started his professional playing career at the club has led his Vale side to safety despite a relegation scrap and has placed his sights further towards the top end of the table. Finishing 8th in the table, as his club aimed to finish within the play-off positions. This season, promotion is again the only target. They have started the season off in a good manner, with six league wins from a total of ten league encounters. Victories over Cheltenham Town, Salford City and Oldham Athletic being three of them six. However, they have been knocked out of both the FA Cup and EFL Trophy within the first two games of these competitions. Non-league Kings Lynn Town were victorious at Vale Park, 1-0. After a win at Southend United in the EFL Trophy, Fleetwood Town had too much quality for their visitors in the second tue of that competition. Thus, Rovers are up against good opposition this weekend. Especially as the defence aim to hold their own against Mark Cullen who is the hosts’ leading goal scorer this season with two goals in five games. Cullen is a 28-year-old striker from Ashington, rising through the ranks at Hull City and Newcastle United he has since featured for Luton Town and Blackpool amongst others before signing for the Burslem promotion candidates in 2019. Whilst at Stockport County, assistant manager Stuart Watkiss described the forward as an ‘out and out goalscorer’; who’s ‘finishing is his best part of his game’. Thus, Tranmere certainly have to be on their best form to keep him quiet and to send three points for the league table back on its journey to Merseyside.
Head to head:
Played – 94, won – 40, drew – 23, lost – 31
Port Vale 1 Tranmere Rovers 3
If you want to get further into the matchday ‘mood’, why not read my Q+A with a ‘Valiants’ fan?. I aim to understand more about the state that the hosts find themselves in whilst also aiming to get the opinion of Tranmere, from the replier.