Preview: Port Vale vs Exeter City

A hard-fought draw on Saturday against fellow promotion chasers Colchester extended City’s unbeaten run to 11 as well as maintaining the record of being the only side in the 92 yet to have conceded a league goal in 2020. The games continue to come thick and fast thanks to City’s EFL Trophy run with a trip to the Potteries on Tuesday night. Brennan Dickenson is expected to return to the side, the new signing having missed the match against his former club for personal reasons, while it may be that three starts in a week may be too much for Nicky Ajose as he continues to come back from his spell on the sidelines, so Lee Martin would be the likely candidate to start. Alex Fisher made his return from injury off the bench and will probably be on the bench again.

Port Vale have established themselves at the head of the chasing pack behind the melee in and around the promotion places, currently in 10th and three points behind Forest Green in 9th. John Askey has moulded a side that is proving quite difficult to beat, and if they could turn a few of their draws into wins they could be right in the promotion mix. In the context of the season the fixture computer hasn’t been particularly kind to the Valiants this week, a trip to leaders Swindon before Tuesday night’s encounter. That visit to Swindon finished 3-0 to the hosts, sweet revenge after Vale beat the leaders 2-0 at the end of December. Port Vale have this season also recorded wins over the likes of Crewe and Bradford, so they will not be daunted by the visit of a front runner. The headline maker remains Tom Pope, although his scoring return has been modest by his standards and he has made headlines for different reasons, picking up a suspension for some ill-advised Twitter comments. The leading league scorer is Jake Taylor (no confusion for commentators on Tuesday night then!) with five. Former City midfielder Manny Oyeleke has been out injured since September.

It’s hardly a surprise that City scored late in the reverse fixture, what is more surprising perhaps is that the match didn’t finish 1-0, rather 2-0 thanks to goals in the last ten minutes from Bowman and Lee Martin. Last season’s fixture at Vale Park was one of a few times when City failed to defend a lead (something that has seen a dramatic improvement this season) – City lead through Law, but a goal in about the 123rd minute from Idris Kanu sealed a point for the hosts. Vale hold a slight league head to head advantage with 20 wins to City’s 18, 11 matches finishing level.

The match officials for this game are:

Referee: Paul Marsden
Assistant Referees: Hristo Karaivanov and Marc Wilson
Fourth Official : Mark Cunliffe

Just the one game for Paul Marsden in change of Exeter


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