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🔎 The Opposition: Port Vale

Joe Glanville takes an in-depth look at Saturday's opponents

27 September 2018

Exeter City secured a third straight league win following a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Cheltenham Town and now a visit to Port Vale lies in wait with the home side undefeated in their last three games.

The Grecians have scored an impressive 10 goals in their last three matches, but will have to be wary of a Port Vale side who have won three and lost one of their four home games this season.

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s opposition:

  • Founded: 1876
  • Stadium: Vale Park
  • Nickname: The Valiants

Founded in 1876, Port Vale are the second oldest football club currently in League Two after Notts County, traditionally playing in white, orange and black colours.

They have been promoted from the third tier of English football on four occasions and twice as champions in 1929/30 and 1953/54. The Stoke-based side also won the Fourth Division in 1958/59 and were promoted from League Two (its reformed name) in 2012/13.

The Valiants hold the record for most seasons (105) played in the Football League without ever reaching the top flight.

The Manager

Neil Aspin

Having amassed over 300 appearances playing in the Valiants’ backline between 1989 and 1999, it seemed only apt that Aspin would return to the club as manager one day.

After honing his managerial craft in the lower leagues with Harrogate Town, Halifax and Gateshead, taking over the reigns at Vale Park in 2017 represented Aspin’s biggest challenge to date. The uncompromising 53-year-old led his team to 20th last season, staving off relegation by a solitary point.

The Ground

  • Name: Vale Park
  • Capacity: 19,052
  • Year opened: 1950
  • Address: Vale Park, Hamil Road, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, ST6 1AW

In the scale of League Two stadiums, Vale Park is large, with a capacity of just over 19,000. Only MK Dons and Notts County in League Two can boast bigger stadiums.

Vale Park opened in 1950 and unlike many English stadiums of today, can be credited with saying it has never undergone a name change for sponsorship purposes. Just 10 years after opening, Port Vale enjoyed their record attendance which is still true to this day when 49,768 fans packed into the ground to watch their team play Aston Villa in 1960.

One to watch

Versatile fullback Mitchell Clark may play nominally as a right back for Aspin’s side, but has made some eye-catching performances in the team following a loan from Aston Villa this season.

While the 19-year-old is only an infant in professional football, he has been described as anything but that. Having already represented Wales in the under 17 and 19 youth teams, Clark is definitely one for the future.

Recent form guide

After just six points from their opening six league games, Port Vale have turned their form around with seven points in their last three games and winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Exeter will have to be at their fluid, attacking best with Port Vale’s stoic defence keeping clean sheets in their previous two fixtures against Crewe Alexandra and Northampton which they won 1-0 and 2-0 respectively.

2017/18 season in review

  • Position: L2, 20th
  • Average attendance: 4,583
  • Top scorer: Tom Pope (17)

A desperately poor start to the season saw Port Vale gain just five points from 12 games and languishing in the relegation zone in 23rd, but an undefeated December renaissance which culminated in four wins and a draw meant Aspin’s men rose to 18th.

The Valiants loitered precariously around the drop zone for much of the rest of the season, before narrowly avoiding relegation after losing their final two games, including a 5-0 demolition at the hands of Cambridge United. They finished in 20th.

Recent meetings

Port Vale 0-1 Exeter City (20/3/18)

Jordan Storey’s goal in the 24th minute ensured Paul Tisdale’s side avenged their home defeat to Port Vale earlier in the season with all three points keeping up their promotion hopes and consigning Port Vale to more misery near the foot of the table.

Exeter City 0-1 Port Vale (21/10/17)

Aspin’s side picked up a shock win at St James Park with Tom Pope’s first half strike proving the difference, as Port Vale continued their assent up the table, while the high-flying Grecians stuttered once more after three games without a win.

Head-to-head

  • Exeter City wins: 5
  • Draws: 1
  • Port Vale wins: 3

Up next at St James Park:

City take on Crewe Alexandra on Saturday, December 15 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.


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