Match Preview – Vale at Grimsby and Barnet
Vale face a helping of fish and bees over the next few days – a period of time which could go a long way in deciding their future and their place in the Football League, as they take on fellow strugglers Grimsby Town and then Barnet in a hastily arranged game at the Hive Stadium.
The Mariners are first up to face the Valiants when Neil Aspin’s side travel north for their league fixture at Blundell Park, where a larger than average crowd is expected after the home side put a special offer on tickets for the game.
Hoping to boost the attendance and thus help their side to three massive points, Grimsby are offering a free ticket to their next home fixture for holders of a ticket to the Vale match.
That could well just tip the game in the home side’s favour, but Vale must put all of that to the back of their minds and concentrate on the job in hand.
Three points for the Valiants would see the Burslem outfit leapfrog their hots in the League Two table and move them a step closer to safety, but without a win since the end of December that will be a big ask.
Vale will be conscience of Grimsby’s own situation, with the Mariners currently in free-fall, without a win in fifteen games, though they will be boosted by the recent appointment of new manager Michael Jolley.
Vale will be hoping he doesn’t live up to his name and that he won’t be smiling come five o’clock on Saturday after Vale earn maximum points.
Vale fans will be keeping a close eye on Aspin’s team selection for Saturday’s game. Vale are without top scorer Tom Pope, after the skipper went under the knife for a hernia operation earlier this week.
He is expected to be out for several weeks, just when Vale could really do with him leading the line in a run of extremely important fixtures at the back end of the season.
Vale were forced to play the game against Barnet earlier than they would have liked, following the recent postponement and they had pencilled in a date when they were free in April.
The Football League had other ideas, however, and Vale must follow the trip north with another long journey in midweek when they travel south to take on bottom of the table Barnet.
Two defeats would leave Vale reeling and in serious trouble, whilst two victories would give them some much-needed breathing space.
Aspin would maybe take a win and a defeat from the two fixtures, whilst two points would make the situation interesting and see a few more fingernails chewed off in and around the Potteries.
Dave Johnson – 6TR