City’s 1-1 draw at Northampton, coupled with Forest Green’s surprising 1-3 reverse at home to Harrogate, means it’s City in the driving seat for the League Two title going into the final day. For Matt Jay to lift the trophy on Saturday only requires City to match Forest Green’s result with both sides playing teams who themselves have everything to play for. City’s goal at Northampton came courtesy of substitute Sam Nombe, who will be hoping that his cameo off the bench will be enough to see him earn a start against Port Vale. Meanwhile, Sam Stubbs again missed the trip to Northampton and he may now be given the summer off to ensure his troublesome knee doesn’t flare up properly, meaning Jonathan Grounds will keep his place. Any temptation for Matt Taylor to shuffle his pack and give the likes of Alfie Pond some match time will have been tempered by last week’s results and the extra importance placed on this fixture.
With a few weeks to go, Port Vale looked set to clinch promotion like City with games to spare. However, after a run of eight wins in nine matches (the other their draw with City in late March), the Valiants have done something of a Devon Loch and go into Saturday’s final fixture not just with only a slim chance of going up automatically but actually looking over their shoulders as a bad set of results could still see Darrell Clarke’s side drop out of the playoffs. Much will rely on the likes of Ben Garrity and Jamie Proctor, each of whom have 12 goals in the league to their name, while former Manchester United striker James Wilson is also one who tends to catch the eye. Expecting to start at the back will be Aaron Martin, whose release by City in 2020 was considered something of a shock by City supporters.
The reverse fixture was delayed until March due to the original tie being postponed due to Covid, and while the scoreline was 0-0, that perhaps didn’t reflect on the game itself which was a keen contest played between two good in-form sides. That draw ended a run of three straight wins for Port Vale in this fixture, last season’s visit to the Park yielding a 2-0 win through Conlon and Rodney. Those wins extended the Valiants’ league head to head lead to 23-18, 12 matches finishing level.
Match officials for the game are:-
Referee: Tom Reeves
Assistant Referees: Daniel Flynn and Conor Farrell
Fourth Official : Carl Brook