Ouch. Let’s get back on the winning path quick sharp and forget that our midweek drubbing at Valley Parade ever took place. Yep, that sounds like a good enough deal to us. But can we make it happen at home to a Port Vale side looking for their first win of term? You’d like to think so, even if they do have a couple of Boro’ old boys in their ranks who might fancy doing us a bit of damage. Let’s take a look at what history can teach us about our chances…
Stevenage v Port Vale
Lamex Stadium, Stevenage — 21 August 2021 — Sky Bet League Two
Now, the smart money here would probably be on a stalemate. Out of 15 previous encounters, we’ve drawn eight. If we’re just counting wins, we’re currently shading it by four to three – and we’d very much like the chance to put a bit of daylight between us.
Last season saw Boro’ pick up four points in what now goes down as a decent haul when we’re talking about the Valiants. A 2-1 home victory on 24 November 2020 ended a long, two-month wait for what was our second League Two win. We followed that up with a 0-0 draw at Vale Park on 23 February 2021; one of our 144 goalless draws during the 2020-1 season.
While it wasn’t two wins out of two, it went some way to softening the blow we took during the season before. You know how dire the 2019-20 campaign was. So, we aren’t gonna remind you. But their 1-0 win at the Lamex on 11 January 2020 was the first time they’d managed to defeat us in a league match. Before that, both their previous victories had come in the FA Cup.
Our 1-1 draw at Vale Park on 19 October 2019 ranks as one of our better results that term.
It all started in the FA Cup…
Right, the FA Cup. The 2009-10 Round One draw put us and them together. And that was a good little test for us. We were looking to get promoted and that’d put us on a par with Port Vale. This cup encounter, therefore, counted as a bit of a litmus test.
Charlie Griffin scored a late equaliser in the original tie on 7 November 2009 to secure a replay that was the least we deserved. Back at the Lamex 10 days later on 17 November 2009, we had home advantage and the confidence that we could cause a bit of an upset. An uncharacteristic cock-up by Mark Roberts, however, let the visitors in to score the decisive goal. Our cup run was at an end. And it could have been so much more.
Not that we had to wait long for ‘revenge’. After promotion that season, we took on Vale again in the 2010-1 season – this time as equals. It’s still the only time that either one of us has secured a league double; Boro’ winning 3-1 on the road on 22 February 2011, before doubling down on it with a 1-0 home win on 25 April 2011 as the playoffs came into sight.
Up to League One, down to League Two
As is sometimes the case with our current League Two cohort, ups and downs between Leagues One and Two can press pause on the head-to-head. That’s what happened with us and Port Vale too. We went up and had to wait until the 2013-4 season until we met again. A 2-2 away draw on 14 December 2013 and a 1-1 home draw on 29 March 2014 did little to help our survival hopes.
We then saw little of each other for a few seasons as Vale kept their heads above water in League One. The one exception was the 2016-7 FA Cup Round One draw. Boro’ travelled to Vale Park on 5 November 2016 with hopes once again of upsetting the odds and knocking them out. Not for the first time, however, the Stoke-based club resisted our ambitions and edged it 1-0. It was one of those you can’t help but feel it was there for the taking if we’d gone a little harder at it.
A regular date in the League Two calendar?
Ho hum, what can you do. And, anyway, Vale got themselves relegated at the end of that season and were back in our pond for the next season. Since then, we’ve met every league season. And in both the 2017-8 and 2018-9 seasons, we collected four points at their expense.
It started with a 2-0 home win on 30 September 2017; goals from Danny Newton and Jonathan Smith doing the trick. For the reverse fixture at theirs, we should – for all intents and purposes – have come back with another three points and a second league double. But we cocked it up on 17 March 2018; surrendering a two-goal deficit to let our hosts back in for a share of the spoils.
It was a result that spelled the end for Darren Sarll as boss.
On 23 October 2018, Boro’ passed up chance after chance as we were left to settle for a goalless draw at the Lamex. Our away match later on in the season, however, was a completely different kettle of fish. We were making a late dash for the playoffs and needed points to keep up with the top seven. And Port Vale were not going to stand in our way on Good Friday 19 April 2019. A two-goal haul for Emmanuel Sonupe set us on course for a commanding 4-1 win.
It’s as good as it’s ever been against the Vale. More please. We have four points to collect…