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HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: Port Vale

We take a closer look at this weekend's opponents

15 December 2017

After the weather claimed United’s FA Cup replay against Gillingham in midweek, the Blues will finally take back to the Brunton Park pitch this Saturday.

The visitors are Port Vale who, under recently-appointed boss Neil Aspin, are looking to pull away from the relegation zone.

Carlisle, meanwhile, will be keen to pick up their first win in their last three Sky Bet League Two outings.

We put Aspin’s men under the spotlight ahead of their visit to Brunton Park:

Picking Up

Despite winning on the opening day of the season, the overall beginning to Vale’s campaign was poor and they went their next twelve games without a win.

That saw Michael Brown lose his job, with former Vale player Aspin then stepping into the hotseat.

And the former Gateshead boss has managed to steady the ship and take his side clear of the foot of the table.

Vale now sit 19th - although they have won just one of their last six in all competitions and are still just one point clear of the drop zone.

Enjoying Their Travels

Interestingly, most of Port Vale’s points this season have been picked up on the road this season.

11 of their 21 points have come away from Vale Park, which could see the Vale players looking forward to their trip to the North West.

Some of Vale’s results on their travels have been eye-catching too - with victories at both Exeter and Morecambe as well as well-earned points at Yeovil and Newport.

What Does History Tell Us?

The two sides have met fairly regularly throughout history and it’s the Valiants who have the marginally better record.

Of the 33 times the pair have faced off, Vale have claimed victory on 12 occasions with United triumphant in 10 games - 10 meetings have ended as draws.

The last time the two sides met was last season, when United ran out 2-1 winners in the League Cup courtesy of goals from Charlie Wyke and Shaun Miller.

Watch highlights from the 2-1 EFL Cup home victory last season here:

Fortress Brunton

Only once in the last 50 years have Port Vale claimed maximum points at Brunton Park.

That triumph actually came in the last league meeting between the two sides, as the Blues fell to a 1-0 defeat in what was Greg Abbott’s last game in charge of the club.

But prior to that, United had gone eight games unbeaten on home soil against the Valiants in a run stretching back to 1959.

Keith Curle will be hoping his Cumbrian side can continue their excellent run of form against Vale on home soil this weekend.

Ones to Watch

+ Antony Kay - An experienced centre back, Kay began his career at Barnsley where he helped guide the Tykes to the Championship in 2006. A move to Tranmere Rovers followed just a year later before he later spent time with Huddersfield, MK Dons and Bury. The 34-year-old made the move to Vale Park in the summer and proved a valuable acquisition, becoming a first team regular while helping to stabilise the Valiants’ backline.

+ Marcus Harness - Another summer signing, Harness joined Vale from Championship outfit Burton Albion with whom he had spent all of his career - the winger’s only previous spells away from the Pirelli Stadium coming in the form of loan switches to Ilkeston and Aldershot. A pacy attacking player, Harness has impressed since his arrival at Vale Park and will cause defences plenty of problems as the season continues.

+ Tom Pope - Now in his second spell at Vale, Pope is something of a cult hero having developed a reputation as a prolific goalscorer for the club he supported as a child. He left Vale Park and spent time at Rotherham and Bury before returning to Vale where he has continued to impress. The frontman has netted eight times already this season and is another who will pose a real threat for Carlisle this weekend.


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