So, we’ve gone and done *another* win in the Leasing.com Trophy. Time we gave it a try in the league too? After hauling ourselves through 70 minutes against Colchester United with one less man on the pitch, that precious point was enough to lift us off the bottom of the table. Now, we’re back indoors after the midweek trip out west for the first in a quick-fire double bill at the Lamex. First up, it’s our BFFs – Port Vale.
Stevenage v Port Vale: The Preview…
Port Vale – who are they?
We’ve known Port Vale for more than a decade now – and don’t time just fly when you’re having lots of fun with one another? After missing a great chance to cause an upset and dump them out of the 2009-10 FA Cup, we made up for it the very next season; clocking up a league double in our first season together in the same division. Since then, the only other time Vale have got the better of us came in the 2016-7 FA Cup First Round.
It’s 17 league points from a possible 27 for us so far – and now the chance to make it 10 unbeaten against them in the league. Well, we’d take that – wouldn’t you?
Our Record vs Port Vale: P 12 — W 4 — D 6 — L 2 — F 17 — A 11 — Pts 17
Last time out: Port Vale 1-1 Stevenage, 19 October 2019
How are Port Vale doing so far this season?
Our last four league games have seen us take on the teams sitting in 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. Vale now make that a straight five, coming us in 10th position. But we wouldn’t say they’re as involved in the promotion hunt as the four before. Four is the key number here, with the Staffordshire side sat four points behind Northampton in 9th. Still, two or three wins on the bounce and that probably puts ’em right in the mix.
As long as this match isn’t the start of a winning run for Vale, we don’t really care much. If you look at the current League Two form, an away win isn’t likely. But obviously we aren’t going to sit here and tell you it’s impossible. In the last eight games, Vale have racked up 10 points; winning just once in the last seven. And, while clearly better than ours because everyone’s is, their form on the road is poor with 11 points from 12 away days.
Oh, did we mention they’ve conceded more in the league than us? Buyer beware with this one, however. Vale tend to score away from home – even if they don’t win. And they have scored twice (or more) in each of their last three matches. Again, even if they weren’t wins – a stat that always troubles us given that Boro’s scoring record this term could be better.
Tell us something we don’t know about Port Vale
If we asked you what Port Vale’s colours are, you’d tell us “white and black” – right? What about their local superiors, Stoke City? Well, you’d tell us “red and white stripes” – unless you wanted to be wrong or you really need to get out more.
But here’s a thing. Vale have shown a thing for trying different colours and dabbled with the red and white stripes between 1898 and 1902. Weirdly, the Potters abandoned that colour scheme in 1891 and didn’t go back to it until 1908. We’re not sure what was going on and we don’t care enough to find out. If this bothers you, please fax us your complaint.
What are the bookies’ odds for this game?
The bookies are almost torn on the outcome of this one. The market seems to be leaning towards an away win, but it’s not clear-cut; 13/8 (Bet365) the best price available from the nosing around we’ve been doing. For the home win, 99/50 (Marathon) could be attractive to the right person? If you think we’ll edge this by one, have courage in your convictions at 15/4 (RedZone). CMS to score again? Get on board at 7/2 (Betway).
Don’t forget – be responsible. And when the fun stops, stop.
Which Port Vale player should we watch out for?
We think he’s dead lovely, but his holiness Tom Pope don’t like us much. With seven goals to his name so far this season, he’s already top of the Vale scoring charts. But you can also bet he wants to put one or two past us. The cheeky scamp. He found the net in Vale’s FA Cup defeat against Man City last time out, which means he’s taken care of his average of a goal every 191 minutes for the time being. Sad times.
Who is our ref for this match?
Lee Swabey. For the third time this season, we get the pleasure – or is that displeasure – of Mr Swabey’s company. It’s nothing personal against the man per se, though. It’s more that he’s been in charge for two of our biggest defeats in recent years. Charlton, anyone? But, we should also cut him a bit of slack. We come into this game having drawn twice in a row on Mr Swabey’s watch; our trips to Leyton Orient and Walsall both finishing goalless.
We’ve also now had a different gaffer for each!
Our Record: P 8 — W 2 — D 2 — L 4 — F 6 — A 19
Last time out: Walsall 0-0 Stevenage, 23 November 2019
And, finally, what do you reckon?
If we just play like we did the other night, we can’t see how we won’t get something out of this game. We’re scared of being too upbeat about our chances, however. It always goes balls up when we, er, go balls out. But we do think we’ll win this and we’ve not said it for a while. Joe Leesley will be involved in one of our goals too. It’s a hill we’re prepared to die on…
Stevenage v Port Vale scorecast: 2-1