Both Port Vale and Plymouth Argyle come into Saturday’s clash at Vale Park looking to return to winning ways after disappointing results last weekend. Vale lost 1-0 to Newport, extending their winless run on the road this season whilst Argyle drew 2-2 with Oldham at Home Park.
Port Vale look to name an unchanged line-up from the side that lost 1-0 to Newport last weekend.
Midfielder Manny Oyekele will be in contention to return to the Vale matchday squad after spending the last month out injured with a hamstring problem.
Predicted Line Up (4-3-3 Attacking)
Gibbons, Smith, Legge, Crooks
Conlon, Joyce, Worrall
Amoo, Bennett, Montano
Style of Play
Playing predominantly in an attacking 4-3-3 attacking formation, John Askey’s side looks to create chances from out wide, often utilising the pace of wingers such as David Amoo and Cristian Montano in order to feed targetmen such as Tom Pope and Richie Bennett, who both stand at 6ft 2in respectively. The duo have scored three of Vale’s eight goals in the league so far this season.
Bennett has been Askey’s first choice in recent weeks with, Pope tending to come on late as a like-for-like replacement. Their strength and height allows them to bully opposition defenders and with Argyle’s vulnerability from set pieces this season, the duo could prove deadly if they find themselves in the right positions.
After scoring a League Two low 39 goals last season, Vale have signed a plethora of forwards in the likes of Bennett, Mark Cullen and Jordan Archer to provide competition for last season’s top scorer Pope, who scored 11 goals. Cullen and Bennett both played together at fellow League Two side Carlisle last season with the former failing to net in nine games and Bennett registering nine goals from 37 appearances.
The midfield trio allows them to pack the middle of the park with 32-year-old Luke Joyce sitting just behind David Worrall and Tom Conlon in a defensive midfield role. Unlike Joyce and Conlon, Worrall is not typically a central midfielder and more regularly plies his trade as a right-back or right midfielder. Of the three, these attacking attributes allow the former Millwall more of a licence to go forward and aid attacks. The 29-year-old has been awarded for his efforts so far this season with two assists, and with less emphasis on creating chances through the middle, he is able to drift out wide, allowing a winger to either overlap or find space in the box.
Joint top scorer David Amoo joined Vale from fellow League Two side Cambridge in the summer. The 28-year-old recorded five goals and four assists from 43 appearances and looks to better than tally with two goals from seven appearances with the Valiants so far. With an abundance of pace and a bit of trickery it’s not surprise that a number of League Two clubs were eager to gain his signature in the summer.
Something of a journeyman, the Englishman is with his tenth club after coming through the ranks at Millwall and then Liverpool. His most prolific spell of his career came at Carlisle between 2013-15 where he registered 24 goals and assists (16G, 8A) from 79 appearances.
Port Vale struggled for goals last season in League Two scoring a division low 39 goals as they finished 20th. Whilst the signings of Amoo and Bennett should ensure that they are a little more free scoring this season, injuries will leave them low on options on the wing, a key part of how they create chances. Whilst Amoo has been vital this season, Vale have had little option other than to play him there due to the injury of Rhys Browne who has yet to feature since his summer move from Yeovil.
Ordinarily, such a low scoring side would be relegated. However, Vale conceded just 55 goals from their 46 league games which was less than promoted Bury and play-off final losers Newport County. The feat ensured that they finished the season with the eighth best defensive record in the division and this effectively ensured their Football League status.
Vale’s achilles heel was very much their lack of pace at the back, particularly with centre-back pairing Leon Legge and Nathan Smith not being the most mobile. This allowed more attacking and pacey sides to get behind them with ease at times. This saw them concede six against Lincoln as well as four against Stevenage and Oldham. With Argyle’s array of attacking options, Vale could potentially struggle on Saturday. Such performances have already been prevalent this season during their 5-2 away defeat to Grimsby.
Argyle go into this match as favourites. Despite not quite hitting top gear yet, Ryan Lowe’s side come into the match with a fully fit squad for perhaps the first time this season. The return of duo Joel Grant and Dominic Telford will come as a huge boost for the Pilgrims.
Port Vale are unbeaten at Vale Park this season, defeating both Forest Green and Cambridge whilst drawing with Northampton. They will be buoyed by the fact that Argyle have kept just one clean sheet in their last seven matches in all competitions. It feels unlikely that either side will keep a clean sheet in this encounter, but with Argyle’s attacking options going into the encounter, I feel they will come out 3-1 winners.