PREVIEW: Port Vale v Oxford United

FA Cup First Round – Vale v Oxford

It seems Vale supporters are split when it comes to the importance of this evening’s FA Cup tie at Vale park when Oxford United are the visitors.




One school of thought says that Vale’s priority has to be to concentrate on League Two survival, and that a run in the FA Cup would be a distraction from Vale’s main aim.

The alternative view is that yes, avoiding relegation is of course of paramount importance, but that any money received from any progress made in the Cup could be put to good use by the manager in January’s transfer window.

Any cash handed over by the Chairman to Neil Aspin would of course aid the boss in adding to his squad in the New Year, thus strengthening his side’s chances of climbing the table.

In the mean-time, Vale need to overcome the challenge they face when they line-up against an Oxford side currently sitting 36 places above them in the football pyramid, and they are fully aware that it won’t be easy.

Two points off the play-off places in League One, Pep Clotet’s side were beaten away in their last outing, losing 2-0 to Fleetwood Town, bringing to an end a run of six games without defeat.

They will be keen to put that right with a favourable result at Vale Park, in what will be the Spaniard’s fir taste of the FA Cup, and he is expecting a tough encounter.

Clotet said: “Obviously it is going to be very hard because before they lost last weekend Port Vale had won three games in a row.

“They are strong, they have a good work intensity and are good going forward. We are expecting a physical game as well and the Cup is always a million miles an hour.”

Vale boss Neil Aspin has selection ‘problems in the goalkeeping department as he ponders whether to start with on-loan Dimitri Evtimov, Ryan Boot, or Sam Hornby, who is now back in training.

Striker Tyrone Barnett and defender Joe Davis are both rules out. Barnett, who has been dogged with injuries since joining the club in the summer has a groin strain, while Davis is suffering with a thigh strain.

Whilst neither player has been a regular starter, it may well affect how he views his team selection for Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy game against neighbours Crewe Alexandra.

Dave Johnson – 6TR

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