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🔎 The Opposition: Port Vale (H)

All you need to know about Saturday's opponents

18 September 2020

City’s first home EFL Sky Bet League Two fixture of the 2020/21 season kicks off on Saturday as the Grecians host Port Vale at St James Park.

Here’s all that you will need to know about Saturday's opponents…

  • Founded: 1876
  • Nickname: The Valiants
  • Honours: Football League Trophy Winners (1992/93, 2000/01), Football League Third Division Play-Off Winners (1988/89), Football League Third Division Champions (1929/30, 1953/54), Football League Fourth Division Champions (1958/59).

Formed in 1876, Port Vale Football Club took its name from the venue of the inaugural meeting at ‘Port Vale House’ situated in Stoke-on-Trent. The club first competed in the Midland League before becoming founding members of the Football League Second Division in 1892. 

Vale spent 13 non-consecutive seasons in the division, punctuated by two seasons back in the Midland League, however had to resign from the league system due to financial difficulties and entered liquidation in 1907. The name Port Vale continued as a new club in the North Staffordshire Federation League up until 1919 when they were reinstated into the Football League following the expulsion of Leeds City. 

The club spent the next 39 years fluctuating between the second and third divisions, most notably winning the Third Division North title in 1929/30 and in 1953/54, as well as reaching the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in its history in the latter season. 

Port Vale had very little success throughout the 1960s and 1970s, finding themselves applying for re-election into the Football League in 1968. Gordon Lee was the manager to guide the club back to the Third Division the following season where they would remain until 1977/78. 

John Rudge was appointed as manager in 1983 and stepped up to become Vale’s longest-serving and most successful manager, leading the club up to the turn of the millenium. Under his leadership the club won promotions in 1985/86, 1988/89 and 1993/94, won the Football League Trophy in 1993 and reached a post-war record eight placed finish in the second tier in 1996/97. After Rudge’s reign, the club sadly entered a decline and entered administration twice in 2003 and 2012. 

In a rather remarkable 2012/13 season Micky Adams won automatic promotion to League One with fan favourite Tom Pope scoring 33 goals despite Port Vale still being in administration. The Valiants would stay in League One until 2017 after new manager Bruno Ribiero and replacement caretaker manager Michael Brown failed to avoid relegation back down to League Two after three seasons previously of pushing for promotion to the Championship. 

With a new manager in John Askey being appointed in February 2019 and the club having new owners Carol and Kevin Shanahan coming into the club midway through 2019, Vale had a terrific end to the coronavirus blighted 2019/20 season finishing agonisingly close to a play-off spot (just one point behind eventual promotion winners Northampton Town).

Last Time Out (in League Two)

Port Vale 2-0 Crawley Town | 12/02/2020 | League Two 

Rather impressively, the Valiants have not lost their first match of the season since 2004. This record continued last weekend with a Mark Cullen brace sealing a 2-0 opening day victory over Crawley Town. 

The Stadium

Despite their formation in 1876, Port Vale have only played at Vale Park since 1950. 

vale park aerial.jpg

The club can rival most of their League Two counterparts when it comes to being steeped in history and they can certainly rival them in the stadium stakes also. Vale Park ranks third in the list of League Two stadiums in terms of capacity and can hold just over 19,000 fans. 

The stadium has also hosted over historic matches such as a 2-0 win over Stanley Matthews’ Blackpool, a fifth round FA Cup tie versus Aston Villa, and a 2-1 FA Cup win over the competitions reigning champions, Everton.

The Manager 

John Askey has been in charge of Port Vale since February 2019. He came in to help the Valiants maintain their League Two status as they faced a relegation battle for the last three months of the season and guided the club to a 20th placed finish achieving 16 points in the same number of games. 


The former Shrewsbury Town boss worked wonders last season after reshaping the squad by letting 14 players leave and bringing in 14 players during his first summer at the helm. Within just one full year of the job, Askey transformed Vale’s form and led the club to 7th in the league in March and indeed concluded the season in 7th following the decision to finish the league for the 2019/20 season.

In his playing days Askey was a dangerous winger, who forged a career very much in the image of a one club man. A former product of the Vale academy, Askey went on to enjoy an illustrious 19-year career at Macclesfield, making over 500 appearances for the Silkmen.

He retired in 2003 after winning two Conference titles and two Player of the Year awards and went on to enhance his legendary status by managing the side for five years between 2013 and 2018. That five-year stint included National League glory, before joining Shrewsbury Town at the beginning of the season.

One to Watch 

Following his double at Vale Park last Saturday, Mark Cullen is Port Vale’s leading scorer for the 2020/21 campaign thus far. 


The Newcastle United Academy graduate was one of Askey’s first signings at the club in June 2019 and despite being behind Tom Pope in the pecking order finished his first season with eight goals in 25 appearances. 

Before moving to Vale Park, Cullen played for Hull City, Bradford City, Bury, Stockport County, Luton Town, Blackpool and Carlisle United respectively. The frontman’s most successful season saw him shine for the Tangerines in 2016/17, where he scored 13 times and netted the all-important winning goal in the League Two Play-Off Final. 

Head to Head

  • Exeter City wins: 19
  • Draws: 12
  • Port Vale wins: 25

Last Match 

Port Vale 3-1 Exeter City | 28/01/2020 | League Two

In the second encounter between the two sides during the 2019/20 season, goals from Ritchie Bennett (2) and Leon Legge (1) secured victory for Port Vale as they came from behind following Nicky Ajose’s opener. 

How to Watch 

You can show your support from the safety of your own home by purchasing a match pass on iFollow for £10 with the revenue (after costs) being split 50/50 between the two clubs as it is a cup fixture. This will mean that you'll be providing the club with much welcome income whilst games are played behind closed doors.


The stream includes the live commentary, score overlay and replays.

To purchase a match pass please click here.

Supporters need to purchase a match pass on a web browser. However, once the pass is purchased, users can watch the game via the app.

You can watch the match on your laptop by purchasing a match pass and logging on to the website homepage where there will be a 'Watch Now' button near the top of the page.

This season the EFL have created a new 'iFollow' app where you can watch on your phone or tablet! The old Exeter City app is being phased out, so if you have that please uninstall and download the app:

To purchase a match pass please click here.

For further details on iFollow, please click here.

Matchday Coverage

As usual, we’ll have the match covered across our social media channels and we’ll have a post-match interview with manager Matt Taylor and a player as they reflect on the result. 

Exeter City on social media

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