By Gerry PrewettThis Saturday Bristol Rovers will be looking to kick start their home form when they take on a fifth placed Port Vale.
With just one victory from their four home games, Rovers know that they need to improve that record if they are to make a run for the Play-Off spots this season.
The Midland team have suffered just two losses this season, both on the road, at Swindon (1-0) and Bury (4-1).
Last weekend, as Rovers were battling out a 1-1 draw at Valley Parade, the Valliants from Burslem were overcoming a stubborn Gillingham team 2-1.
Josh Wright opened the scoring in the 25th minute for the away team from close range as he turned in Cody McDonald's shot following a well-worked short corner.
It was another 50 minutes before Remie Streete equalised as he pounced after keeper Jonathan Bond parried Gezim Shalaj's shot.
The winner came just eight minutes later when Alex Jones received the ball on the edge of the Gills penalty area and created space with some neat footwork before firing a low shot past Bond for his fifth goal of the campaign.
Vale were much improved after going a goal down and Streete almost levelled after 58 minutes but his low drive from Paulo Tavares' free-kick 20 yards out cannoned back off the upright.
Speaking after the game Vale Boss Bruno Ribeiro said, "In the first half we played too slowly. It's not what we had spoken with the players about and not what we want. I spoke to the players at half time and said – 'we'll go and win the game. If we play high tempo with good pressure then we will win this game.'
"In the end I am happy because the players were fantastic in the second half; it was good character and determination and good attitude. It is good for us, and when we play as a team it is easier.”
"Sometimes in the first half it was not our play. I want two or three touch, pass and move, good movement from the midfielders and the wingers but in the first half we did nothing. In the second half we changed. We spoke to the players and said we will win the game we just need our movement and high tempo and we will win this game."
Rovers and Port Vale first met on 7 January 1939 on a pre-War Division 3 (South) game and the Midlanders ran out 1-0 winners, with Tom Nolan scoring for Vale. The return fixture saw a 2-1 home victory with Nolan again scoring along with Len Smart and Frank Curran scoring for Rovers.
Rovers first victory in these fixtures didn’t come until the sixth game on 20 December 1947 in a Division 3 (South) fixture, with Fred Leoman and Bill McGarry (Own Goal) scoring for Rovers and Alan Martin scoring for Vale.
Rovers’ home record against Vale is a strong one with 18 victories, 9 draws and just 6 defeats.
Although the clubs have met a total of 62 times they are rarely high scoring affairs, with Rovers averaging 1.23 goals per game and Vale 1.25 per game. The highest scoring game between the teams took place on 28 December 1963 when the teams shared a 4-4 draw at a muddy Eastville. Ian Hamilton (2), Alfie Biggs and Johhny Brown scored for Rovers and Tony Richards (2) and Jackie Mudie (2) notching for Vale.
Rovers followed that up just over a year later on 16 January 1965 with a 4-0 win. Bobby Jones (2), David Hudd and Joe Haverty scored Rovers goals.
The last fixture played was on 12 March 2013.The game was just seven minutes old when Ryan Brunt made the breakthrough for Rovers. The striker got his head on to the end of a corner from Norburn and nodded home from close range into the bottom corner of the net. On 38 minutes they doubled their lead from another set piece. Once again Norburn floated in the corner and this time Brunt fired a low shot through a crowded penalty area and in to the back of the net.
Talking ahead of this weekend’s game Vale Boss Ribeiro commented, "We try to win because it is a hard game. Bristol need the points too, but we need to change away from home. At home it has been fantastic, 100 per cent victories and away from home we need to change. We will prepare and see our tactics for this game because we need to change something away from home and we need to win away from home.”
"Maybe when we play away from home some players are nervous. It is different here, they have the supporters helping them all the time because we have very good supporters, and maybe away some are nervous, but we will change this."
"I tell the players all the time, mistakes are my mistakes, never the players. I come here and put my face in front of them all the time, they just need to play and try to win the games."
One player looking to make and impression is striker, Rigino Cicilia who has played and scored in reserve games in a return from injury, “I’m feeling much better now, I still have a little bit of pain, but it’s not too much and I’m feeling better and hopefully Saturday I can play as well against Bristol Rovers, so I’m excited. I want to be in the first eleven that’s my goal and I want to score goals there as well and help the team to win.”