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Vale of fears as bid for top falters
STUTTERING Port Vale will be without four players as they bid to get their automatic promotion bid back on track at York City tomorrow.
The Valiants, former League Two leaders, have seen a 12-point cushion over the play-off places cut to two in recent weeks following a run of four defeats in their last five games and a return of just one point from a possible 15.
Their efforts to halt the alarming dip in form, however, will not be helped by injuries to winger Ashley Vincent and former Premier League centre-back Darren Purse this week.
Vincent (ankle) and Purse (calf) have joined suspended first-choice central-midfielders Sam Morsy and Doug Loft, who is club captain, on the sidelines.
Ex-Sheffield Wednesday left-back Dan Jones also remains doubtful with the knee problem that has seen him miss the last two matches.
John McCombe is due to deputise for one-time Birmingham defender Purse while former Morecambe full-back Adam Yates is on standby should Jones be ruled out.
Morsy’s two-game ban, incurred for his tenth booking of the season during Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers, could mean a quick reprieve for Ryan Burge, who is still facing disciplinary action over remarks made on Twitter concerning his recent omission from the team.
Vale, who have not won promotion since 1994 when the likes of former City trio Martin Foyle, Andy Porter and Paul Musselwhite were on the playing staff, remain the division’s top scorers with a tally of 67 goals, which is six more than any other side in League Two.
Micky Adams’ men have been far from potent, though, during the last eight matches, netting just three times and not more than once in any of those fixtures.
Top scorer Tom Pope has been stuck on 27 goals since January 24, having endured a ten-game drought following his last effort during a 2-2 draw at AFC Wimbledon.
Pope is likely to continue in attack, though, tomorrow alongside former West Brom striker Lee Hughes who, at the age of 36, has contributed five goals in 11 appearances since his transfer window switch from Notts County.
Vale’s only point from the last five games was picked up during a 0-0 home draw with Bradford.
Otherwise, Adams’ side have been beaten by Exeter (2-0) and Southend (2-1) in front of their own fans and suffered defeats at Oxford (2-1) and Bristol Rovers.
Port Vale (probable): Neal, Duffy, Chilvers, McCombe, Yates, Myrie-Williams, Griffiths, Burge, Taylor, Pope, Hughes.
THE Valiants’ last Football League visit was on New Year’s Day 1994 when City won a Second Division (League One) encounter 1-0 thanks to a Paul Barnes goal.
Watched by 5,903, the line-up was: Kiely, McMillan, Hall, Swann, Tutill, Stancliffe, McCarthy (Barratt), Cooper, Barnes, Bushell, Canham. In the visitors’ side that day were Martin Foyle and Andy Porter – City’s managerial team between 2008 and 2010.
In total, Vale have made 23 League trips (1930 to 1994), winning six times and drawing four.
City’s biggest wins in the series were 5-1 in 1967/68 (Ted MacDougall hat-trick) and 1979/80, and 4-0 in 1978/79 (Gordon Staniforth hat-trick). Port Vale’s biggest success at Bootham Crescent was 4-1 in 1986/87.
Players who have represented both clubs include Keith Houchen, Simon Mills, Gary Ford, Paul Musselwhite and Jon McCarthy.
It happened on March 16
1955: Four days after beating Notts County to reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, City beat Chesterfield 3-2 at home with goals from Arthur Bottom (2) and Billy Fenton. The attendance was 10,614 and City were sixth in Division Three North.
1957: Arthur Bottom and Gordon Brown scored in a 2-0 win at Gateshead and City were in the top half of the Northern Section.
1960: Third Division (League One) leaders Norwich City won 2-1 at Bootham Crescent in front of 6,510. Terry Farmer was the scorer and City were 15th in the table.
1963: A 2-0 win at Oxford United thanks to goals from Billy Rudd and Tommy Heron in Division Four.
1974: A Bootham Crescent crowd of 11,066 saw City, second in Division Three (League One), beat leaders Bristol Rovers 2-1 with Chris Jones and Ian Holmes, with a stoppage-time penalty, on target.
2001: City beat Darlington 2-0 at home with Mike Basham and Michael Proctor on the scoresheet. The attendance for this Third Division (League Two) fixture was 3,903.
Compiled by David Batters