Port Vale v Stevenage: Hold on a sec – did we get a bit too far in front of ourselves; a home draw with Walsall providing us with a small reality check?
Photo: Steve Daniels (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Hold on a sec – did we get a bit too far in front of ourselves; a home draw with Walsall providing us with a small reality check? On paper and recent form, it looked like an amazing opportunity for us to make it back-to-back league wins. On the day, however, that wasn’t to be. Mind you, we’re being critical. After such a dreadful start (and we won’t dwell on it), we then had to endure a Saddlers ‘keeper in the form of his life.

For a side that does seem to be growing in confidence, a point is the least we deserved. And it’s good to see that we seem much more comfortable in ourselves after 2020 proved to be a long year. But that doesn’t mean we need to start giving teams an early head-start, eh? Not just yet. Anyway, let’s move on now and take it to the second-best team that Stoke-on-Trent has to offer. Can we now vanquish the Valiants?

The Details: Port Vale v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

Vale Park is the latest destination for Alex Revell’s men. It’s somewhere in the shadow of the Britannia Stadium – or whatever it’s called nowadays…

Can I watch Port Vale v Stevenage?

Now, we know you’re a savvy bunch – and you all got your ears to the ground when it comes to the currency markets. So, you won’t need us to tell you the British Pound is on the charge. And it means your tenner will be going much further when you travel abroad. Just imagine – a whole 14 US dollars! Bu-u-ut you can’t go abroad at the moment, so you’ll be best served spending that tenner at home on something like an iFollow Match Pass.

It’ll at least give you the illusion of being in Stoke. It’s about as good as it’ll get right now.

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

At the moment, it seems that – no matter what result we get – we still sit in much the same position in the form table. After Saturday’s point, we’ve gained 12 points from a possible 24. And that’s not the first time we can recall writing that lately. Putting a run together is still proving a challenge. Wins, draws or defeats – we can’t put a string of them together. That’s good in terms of defeats, so we’ll take the rough with the smooth.

Our form on the road is now as good as our next hosts, which is a bit irrelevant as they’re at home. But 15 points from 15 games, while not world-beating, looks a lot better when jotted down. Even Carlisle United, who absolutely wellied us at their place before Christmas, only have 15 points to their name on the road – albeit from two fewer games. As ever, we just need to keep adding goals to our tally.

If Boro’ can make it another away win here, we’ll definitely gain one league position. And it’ll come at the expense of Vale; us both level on 33 points (with Colchester United).

… and how are the Valiants doing right now?

For the Valiants, their home record is almost the same as ours; picking up 18 points from 14 fixtures at Vale Park. The only difference is that we’ve played one more indoors. Their recent form isn’t amazing by any stretch, however. Eight points is all they’ve earned from their last eight matches; winning only three times in 15 games since we beat them at the Lamex in late November. And it’s two wins in eight since the turn of the year.

Now, this could be a useful yardstick for where Boro’ are. The Valients’ two recent wins have come at home against Grimsby Town and Southend United respectively. We’d like to think that we’re now out of what looks like becoming a three-way slog for two relegation spots. So, if Vale are getting their only wins against relegation candidates, our aim here must be to nab at least a point. Otherwise, it doesn’t look so good on us.

One other key takeaway from SoccerStats.com is that Vale have conceded at least once in 71% of their home games this season. In total, they’ve let in 44 goals and that’s fourth-worst in the division. But 41 goals for is the fourth-best in League Two. So, expect goals.

Our story with Port Vale so far

Ever since first meeting the Valiants in our 2009-10 FA Cup Round One clash, it feels like there’s been a bit of tension between us. Now, we think they weren’t chuffed with our sky-high confidence back then. We were, after all, the non-league upstarts to the established League veterans that our Stoke-based chums undoubtedly are. So, we can’t imagine they were too thrilled when we raced through League Two and won both our 2010-1 fixtures.

By the time they caught up with us, we were heading back down. But not before we took a couple of points off them in our ill-fated 2013-4 campaign. And draws are what we tend to deal in more often than not; seven, or let’s say half, of our 14 meetings to date ending level. While our hosts did claim a first-ever league win at the Lamex just over a year ago, we put things back on track in our last head-to-head with a 2-1 home win three months ago.

Last Time Out: Stevenage 2-1 Port Vale, 24 November 2020
Magic Moment: Port Vale 1-4 Stevenage, 19 April 2019; Boro’ light up a late playoff push.

Who’s the referee in charge?

Martin Coy.

After his Fourth Official gig at Hillsborough at the weekend, Mr Coy is making the short trip south to be the man in the middle here. He might well have that role on the sidelines in the Championship – but his reffing duties so far this campaign have been in Leagues One and Two. And he’s busy enough too; 20 games under his belt and putting himself up there with the most red cards we can recall seeing from any one man. Four is his current count.

That said, 47 bookings (2.35 per game) is hardly the makings of a card-happy madman.

When it comes to us and Mr Coy, we don’t have a happy tale to tell. Boro’ have played five times on his watch; drawing thrice and losing twice – including the last time out in the early stages of the 2019-20 season. Six goals in those five games isn’t too shabby, though. Not least when you think that two of our matches reffed by Mr Coy saw us draw a blank. But it does mean there’s a duck to break here. Or will this official keep being a bad luck charm?

Last Time Out: Stevenage 2-3 Carlisle United, 14 September 2019

Port Vale v Stevenage: Our verdict?

As much as we’d like to sit here and predict another three points on the road, we’re never sure about Vale. On one hand, it’s not far-fetched to say that floodgates could soon burst with us in front of goal. It almost happened against Walsall. But our hosts are no slouches going forward and we’ll have to be switched on. It’s a 1-1 for us.

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Pete H is the head of the BoroGuide team; helping to keep the show on the road for the best part of two decades – all because of his love of Boro'. He was relatively late to the scene; first rocking up at Broadhall Way during the 1995-6 season. But that's mainly because he was too young to pledge allegiance before then. There have been more than enough highs (Easter Monday '96) and lows (Kettering '02) since then, however, to keep him occupied. Yes, and the 2010 title win...

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