It wasn’t pretty, but after three largely undeserved defeats any win will do, especially against a promotion rival, and City’s 1-0 victory over Salford will have given Matt Taylor’s side renewed confidence ahead of the Easter period and the congested run in. The big news last week was the return off the bench of Randell Williams and, with Joel Randall set to miss the rest of the season, his return was particularly timely. The other main news was the dropping of Ryan Bowman to the bench with Taylor having been rather coded in his post-Oldham interview about the performance of certain senior players. Bowman will hopefully have been galvanised by this and will look to recover the form he was showing prior to his Newport red card.
Having just missed out on the playoffs last season, Port Vale were an outside tip for promotion – confirmed by their early season 2-0 win at City, but since then form was poor. This led to the departure of ex-Macclesfield boss John Askey and the surprising decision of Darrell Clarke to make what appeared to be a sideways move from Walsall to take charge. Form under Clarke has begun to turn around, with the Valiants going into Good Friday on the back of three straight wins having only previously beaten basement sides Grimsby and Southend in 2021 beforehand. The main goal threat will come from Devante Rodney and Tom Conlon, while former City midfielder Manny Oyeleke will expect to feature, but one name likely to be missing from the squad is Dino Visser – the former City benchwarmer normally performs the same role at Vale but has been injured of late.
It was Conlon and Rodney who did the damage at the Park in the second league fixture of the season, while City will also look to avenge last season’s trip to Vale Park which finished 3-1 to the hosts. City led at half time through Nicky Ajose (remember him?) before the hosts stormed back through a brace from Bennett (one from the spot) and Legge. These wins have extended Port Vale’s lead in league head to heads to 22-18, with 11 matches finishing level. Details of the last 20 games can be found at https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?p=9096
The match officials for the game will be:-
Referee: Leigh Doughty
Assistant Referees: Mark Jones and George Byrne
Fourth Official : Philip Dermott
Leigh has taken charge of two Exeter games in the past, including the televised defeat to Warrington in the FA Cup. https://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?s=doughty