Differing Opinions Ahead Of The Lincoln Game
Nicki Jones, from Baddeley Green, is a life-long fan who has worked in the media department and other departments at the club on a voluntary basis.
Pete Lawton, from Sneyd Green, is a life-long fan and is a former Commercial Manager at Port Vale, having more than one spell at the club.
Jean Jackson, from Oakhill, follows Vale home and away. She has been a programme contributor and proof reader for a number of years and is very knowledgeable about the club.
Results apart, what has pleased you most about the team since Neil Aspin took charge?
Nicki: We certainly look more organised under Aspo and the way we support the strikers has improved dramatically. Having a defender as a manager is paying dividends as I can definitely see improvements in us defending as a unit (sounds daft saying this after a 4-0 home defeat!) – that’s probably a sign of how poor we were before Aspo arrived. Even if the result doesn’t go our way, we can be sure that the players will put in the hard work which is what the supporters want to see.
Pete: There is certainly more organisation, shape, work rate and desire. There is also still a long way to go because the consistency required is still lacking. It’s a work progress, but it’s Aspin’s work in progress and the signs are encouraging.
Jean: What has pleased me most is the clear team spirit with which players are working for each other. Even on Tuesday night when everything seemed to go against them in that bizarre game, they never gave up.
What are the pros and cons about Vale’s decision to play their FA Cup tie at the same time Stoke are playing at home?
Nicki: The pros are that we will hopefully attract a few more supporters on a Saturday afternoon with a good ticket offer. Having said that, the major con for me is that I won’t be able to go. When I saw that we had been drawn at home I booked tickets to see The Charlatans as I was confident that we wouldn’t be playing on the Saturday!
Pete: It’s absolutely the right decision and not before time. For me this is the biggest game of the season because of the implications of progression. It saddens me that we will see a small gate, but it would have been even smaller had we played it on the Friday. I think there will be a bit of overtime for Staffordshire finest, but not to the extent there has been in the past.
Jean: The pros are that more people will be available for a Saturday afternoon match than an evening game. It will also improve the away following – I wouldn’t inflict Friday evening on the M5 on anyone. I don’t know if any folk still go to home games at both clubs or if that is a thing of the past but it will upset them. Having to close the Bycars Stand is disappointing but we have become used to closing stands for Cup games at Vale.
How happy are you with Vale’s current league position?
Nicki: The league position is frightening especially in the light of how well we have been doing in the last few weeks. It shows how far behind we were. Everyone at the bottom seems to be winning all of a sudden – it’s important that we get some consistency and win ugly if need be.
Pete: I’m not happy at all, but as I have said many times before, we are in for a battle and there’s a long way to go before anyone can start patting themselves on the back. We are at the bottom of the fourth division and which ever way you look at it, it’s not good
Jean: Tuesday night’s result was disappointing, especially with a lot of the other teams down at the bottom winning but the performance wasn’t anything like as bad as the result suggests so falling a couple of places was disappointing but not disastrous. Under the previous management, however, I think we would have been cut adrift now so fingers crossed, Tuesday was only a blip.
How confident are you Vale will come away from Sincil Bank at the weekend with a positive result?
Nicki: I’m always confident that we will come away with a positive result. It will be a tough game, as they all are, but I’m sure that the players will want to show what they are capable of after a heavy home defeat.
Pete: Not confident at all. I’d take a point now, but feel that will be beyond us. We remain in difficult times make no mistake.
Jean: I looked at Aspo’s record against Lincoln with Gateshead last season and it was far from encouraging! I hope we can pinch a draw though.
Anything else Vale-related you wish to share with us?
Nicki: It was great to see Tom Pope win Player of the Month and Neil Aspin nominated for Manager of the Month – a sign that we’re heading in the right direction. Despite our precarious league position, there is a much more positive feeling about the place and that comes from the improved performances on the pitch.
Jean: David Artell said Vale fans were uneducated. I wonder how he would explain the fact that supporters applauded the team at the end of the Mansfield game despite the defeat. It seems from that response that our fans are actually very knowledgeable and fully aware that there is more to a match than the result. Well done for responding with intelligence and understanding, lads and lasses. You have confused Artell immensely!
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