A look at tonight's gameAfter the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat at Spotland, Bristol Rovers once again head north, albeit to the Midlands for a mid-week encounter with second in the table Port Vale.
Saturday’s defeat was compounded by the two send-off’s for Gary Kenneth (2 yellows) and Elliot Richards (red) which will prevent either of them from taking part in this tough away game.
Vale have won 4, drawn 4 and lost just once at home this season, in doing that they have scored 22 goals, the equal best in the Division. Conversely they are currently on a five game winless run in the League, with four draws and one defeat since they saw off Wycombe 4-1 on 20 October.
In their latest game, the Burslem team allowed York City to come back from two goals down to take a point. On the half hour, Ryan Burge fired Vale ahead with a shot to the bottom right hand side of goal, after Tom Pope’s shot from Richard Duffy’s cross was saved by Michael Ingham.
Three minutes before half-time the Minstermen went two down as Jennison Myrie-Williams doubled the lead from the spot after Chris Smith had handled Chris Shuker's effort.
Twenty minutes into the second half York struck back after Jamie Reed had fired just over the bar, he turned provider for Alex Rodman's composed finish. With just 90 seconds of regular time remaining Jamie Reed reacted first to a Daniel Kearns cross to stab the ball over the line to give his team a share of the spoils.
Vale boss Micky Adams was generous in his praise for York "It's disappointing to lose a two-goal lead, but I thought York were excellent from start to finish and we will take the point and move on. We struggled to get hold of the ball throughout and when we did get it we gave it away cheaply. It wasn't a good performance."
Looking at the past history of games between the teams at Vale Park, Rovers’ record is extremely lean. With only two victories in 30 games they will certainly need to buck the trend to pick up three points from this game.
Those two wins were a 3-2 result in 1956-57 and a 1-0 result in 1991-92. On average Vale score 1.5 goals per home game against Rovers whereas Rovers average only one in every other game. Historically a 2-1 defeat would look to be on the cards!
Perhaps Rovers best ever performance at Vale Park was on 3 June 1989, when they went down 1-0 in the second leg of a Play-Off Final. A 17,353 crowd was treated to a thrilling end to end game. The applause for both teams at the conclusion of a sapping season was deafening. That experience enabled Rovers to have the resolve to go on to win the Championship the following season
Rovers’ last visit to yield a point at Vale Park was for the opening game of the 2007/08 League One season. Andy Williams came off the substitute’s bench to grab an equaliser 13 minutes from time to earn Rovers a valuable point.
The Gas had trailed the Valiants following a 66th minute Luke Rodgers spot-kick, handed to the home side after a clash in the penalty box between Steve Phillips and Callum Willock.
Although the clubs have met a total of 63 times in all and are rarely high scoring affairs, on 28 December 1963 the teams shared a 4-4 draw at a muddy Eastville. Rovers followed that up just over a year later on 16 January 1965 with a 4-0 win.
Something that Rovers players may notice on their way into the ground is a tribute to a sporting legend. Vale hero Roy Sproson (think of a cross between Stuart Taylor and Geoff Bradford), who made a record 837 starts for the club, had a statue unveiled in his honour at Saturday’s game. Fans also paid a noisy tribute to Sproson during the game at 8 minutes 37 seconds on the clock!
Sproson, spent three decades at Vale Park as player and then manager, but never returned to the ground after he was sacked in 1977. He was a one man club and amazingly for a lower league footballer was voted Gillette Sports Personality of the Year in 1970.
Vale's recent eight week signing Sean McAllister was happy to find a club after being released by Shrewsbury Town at the end of last season, "I had been ringing around, trying to find a club, so when Micky invited me down here it was brilliant," said McAllister.
"He was shocked I was still out of contract and that no one had taken a chance on me. He wanted me to come to Vale Park and that was nice to hear. The team are second in the table, so I couldn't have expected to end up anywhere better really.
"The manager has experience of success at a higher level and playing for someone like that would be attractive to any footballer.
"When the takeover of the club is completed, maybe there'll be a chance of a longer deal. I had experience of promotion last season and that's always my target, so I'm looking to do it again.
"The manager might have the opportunity to strengthen once the new owner is in place. The team is going the right way already, so hopefully we can build on what's happened so far."
"There are plenty of goals in the team, the two wide men are threatening and Popey has been on fire. If we can keep a few more clean sheets, then I'm sure we won't be too far away."
McAllister’s comment about clean sheets would not go amiss with Mark McGhee, with Rovers having only prevented the opposition from scoring once this season, during the 0-0 home draw with Fleetwood. A clean sheet at Port Vale would be a first for Rovers since that victory back in 1992
Written by Gerry Prewett.