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Match Previews

HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: Port Vale

We take a closer look at this weekend's opponents

27 April 2018

In their final away game of the 2017/18 season, the Blues travel to Port Vale looking to end the campaign on a high.

Under club legend Neil Aspin, Vale have pulled away from the relegation zone in recent weeks and find themselves clear of danger. 

Carlisle, meanwhile, will be keen to pick up another three points despite the play-off dream being over.

We put Aspin’s men under the spotlight ahead of our visit to Vale Park: 

Mathematically Safe 

A slow start to the season saw Vale win just one of their opening 13 games, which seriously raised the prospect of back-to-back relegations for the Burslem based side. 

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 18th and seven points clear of the bottom two with two games left to play – and they will enter the meeting with United in fine form having lost just one of their last six outings. 

Struggles In Front Of Goal 

One of Port Vale’s key problems this season has been finding the back of the net, and that lack of a cutting edge is a big factor in why they sit in League Two’s bottom half. 

Despite having the experienced duo of Tom Pope and Tyrone Barnett up top, the Valiants’ tally of 48 goals is the fifth lowest in the division, with only the bottom four sides having scored less. 

That’s a statistic that Aspin will be desparate to change next season as Vale seek to climb up the table. 

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 13 occasions with United triumphant in 10 games - 10 meetings have ended as draws. 

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

But our meeting earlier this campaign ended in a 2-1 win for the Valiants as Barnett and Pope found the net. Richie Bennett did pull one back for the Blues, but it turned out to be merely a consolation.

Over Ten Years Ago ...

You have to go back to 2007 – over a decade ago – to find the last time United won at Vale Park. 

Danny Graham opened the scoring for the Blues before the visitors were reduced to ten men as Luke Joyce was given his marching orders late on. 

But Joe Garner netted to wrap up a 2-0 win, which is United’s only victory in Burslem in the last twenty years. 

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 19 times already this season and is another who will pose a real threat for Carlisle this weekend.


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