Match Preview: Port Vale v Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe Wanderers travel to Port Vale this Saturday on the verge of clinching their first automatic promotion since joining the Football League.
The Chairboys know that 4 points from their remaining two games will guarantee them promotion at the end of the season but with only Brentford, Exeter and Bury now able to deny them a top-three spot, Wycombe's celebrations could begin as early as this Saturday if other results go their way.
The permutations for promotion this weekend are as follows:
If Wycombe Win they will be promoted if either Exeter or Bury fail to win.
If Wycombe Draw they will be promoted if Bury Lose.
If Wycombe Lose they will not be promoted this weekend.
Port Vale are currently 19th in the league with 44 points from 44 games, 23 of those points having been won on their home turf at Vale Park.
Their home record this season is 6 wins, 5 draws and 11 defeats.
Relegated from League One last May, the Valiants have failed to make an impression in the basement division and have languished in the bottom half of the table all season.
The first half of the campaign saw them pick up only 24 points from 23 games and things haven't improved since, with only 18 points collected in their last 21 games.
Having failed to score a single goal in their last 4 matches and without a win in their last 7 outings, the Vale fans have begun to turn on their manager Dean Glover. Indeed, calls for an organised protest before this Saturday's match have been made on various fans' forums and internet message boards.
Wycombe fans however, will remember Port Vale putting up quite a good show at Adams Park back in November, when they battled hard before eventually going down 4-2.
Vale's top scorer Marc Richards, who has been missing since March with a troublesome Achilles injury, has today been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Bury (Home).............1-1 Draw
Aldershot (Home)......0-0 Draw
Rochdale (Away).......1-0 Loss
Rotherham (Home)....0-0 Draw
Grimsby (Away)........3-0 Loss
Port Vale Goal Stats.
Total Goals Scored.....41
Home Goals Scored....22
Total Goals Conceded....64
Home Goals Conceded...32
13 different players have scored for The Valiants in all competitions.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Marc Richards...........11
Striker: Louis Dodds................9
Midfielder: Simon Richman.......5
Striker: Luke Rogers...............5 (Now with Yeovil)
Midfielder: Robert Taylor..........3
Midfielder: David Howland........3
Wycombe Wanderers are currently 2nd in the league with 77 points from 44 games, 35 of those points having been won on their travels.
Away from Adams Park their record reads 9 wins, 8 draws and 5 defeats.
The Chairboys are now only 2 points behind league-leaders Brentford with 2 games remaining this season.
Promotion was the target for manager Peter Taylor when he took over last Summer and 4 wins in the last 5 games have given his team the perfect opportunity to achieve it.
A few weeks ago, it all looked so different. A run of 6 games without a win had even the most optimistic fan conceding that unless things drastically improved, another sojourn into the play-offs seemed certain.
Taylor was adamant that one win was all his side needed to settle their nerves and that once they got it, they would go on to win four or five more. A stoppage-time winner at Darlington stopped the rot and things have looked up ever since.
Tuesday's victory at Luton Town was another massive result for Wycombe. It took them back to 2nd place in the table and immediately increased the pressure on Exeter City and Bury who both have tricky games to negotiate this weekend.
Although the Chairboys won at Luton, the team selection raised a few eyebrows, with the three-man central midfield in particular looking bereft of flair. This can probably be explained by the fact that Taylor would have been happy with a point at Kenilworth Road, but surely on Saturday Wycombe will be set up to attack a Port Vale side with the 2nd highest number of home defeats in the Football League.
Darlington (Away)......2-1 Win
Gillingham (Home).....1-0 Win
Exeter (Away)...........1-0 Loss
Aldershot (Home).......3-0 Win
Luton (Away).............1-0 Win
Wycombe Goal Stats.
Total Goals Scored.....52
Away Goals Scored....21
Total Goals Conceded....30
Away Goals Conceded...16
15 different players have scored for the Chairboys in all competitions.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Matt Harrold.........12
Midfielder: Chris Zebroski...7
Striker: John Akinde...........7
Midfielder: Matty Phillips.....4
Striker: Jon-Paul Pittman....3
League Form Guide
Port Vale:.....Played:-21, Points:-18, Average:-0.86 Pts per game
Wycombe:....Played:-21, Points:-31, Average:-1.48 Pts per game.
Last Five League Games
Port Vale:.......DDLDL - 3 points
Wycombe:..WWLWW - 12 points
Last Five Home Games
Port Vale:.....LWDDD - 6 points
Last Five Away Games
Wycombe:...LDWLW - 7 points
Against Top-Half Opposition
Port Vale:.....Played:- 23, Won:- 5, Drawn:- 4, Lost:- 14, Points:-19
Against Bottom-Half Opposition
Wycombe:....Played:- 22, Won:- 11, Drawn:- 7, Lost:- 4, Points:-40
Earlier this season Wycombe beat Port Vale 4-2 at Adams Park in a thrilling game which saw Matt Harrold and Chris Zebroski each score two goals.
Altogether the two sides have met on 9 occasions with 5 wins for Wycombe, 1 for Vale and 3 draws.
Previous Meetings at Vale Park
League One 2000/01 : Port Vale 0 Wycombe 1
League One 2001/02 : Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
League One 2002/03 : Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
League One 2003/04 : Port Vale 1 Wycombe 1
The Referee for this match is Phil Crossley from Kent.
Mr. Crossley has been a National List Referee since 2002. He was 4th official for the 2005 FL Cup Final and has refereed the FA Women's Cup Final, FA Vase Final, and a League One Play Off Final. His last Wycombe match was back in December 2003 when the Chairboys beat Bournemouth 2-0 at Adams Park. So far this season he's refereed 35 games and has issued 90 yellow cards and 5 reds.
Wycombe Team News
Tommy Doherty could return to the side.
Chris Zebroski could return to the side.
Matt Harrold is out injured.
Leon Johnson is out injured.
As long as Wycombe don't sit back and invite a currently troubled Port Vale to gain in confidence, they should take all three points on Saturday and possibly even clinch promotion in front of a large travelling support.
Port Vale 0 Wycombe 2
Weekend Rivals Watch
Brentford (1st) are away to Darlington (12th).
Exeter (3rd) are at home to Morecambe (10th)
Bury (4th) are away to Gillingham (5th)