Sky Bet League One football returns to Vale Park this midweek as the Valiants welcome Derby County in our first home league fixture in thirty days.
The Vale will be looking to bounce back immediately after Saturday’s narrow 2-1 defeat against Shrewsbury Town at The Croud Meadow.
Here’s what Vale manager Andy Crosby had to say after Saturday’s fixture:
“It was another performance with control of the ball, domination of the ball, we got into really good areas of the pitch, we had a number of shots, good possession but we need to be more resilient as a group.”
“At this moment in time, our performance levels are exactly what you've seen most weeks, domination of the ball, possession, looking really nice and really appealing on the eye. But this game's about winning and we are not winning enough games of football and if you continue to do that you find yourself dropping down the table like we are.”
Derby County currently occupy the final play-off spot as they sit in 6th place in Skybet League One on 30 points from 17 games played. The Rams have lost just three of their last 11 league fixtures as they look to climb up the table after a fairly inconsistent start to the season.
Derby come into the game off the back of a 2-1 home win against Bristol Rovers. The opening goal came in the 66th minute when Bristol Rovers defender Jack Hunt diverted a low cross into the back of his own net to put Derby ahead. In the 87th minute Bristol levelled when former Rams forward Chris Martin headed home from a deep freekick. The sides looked to be sharing the points until Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored the winner in the last minute when he finished well after a good run into the box.
County are managed by Paul Warne who took the job after leaving Rotherham United. He made a great start to life at Pride Park after joining in September 2022. By January he had his side in touching distance of the automatic promotion places. However, they then went on a run where the won just six games in 18 matches which saw them fall out of the Play Off places and ultimately miss out on the top six by just one point.
Player to Watch – Nathaniel Mendez Laing
The experienced winger has made a good start to the season with four goals and four assists in his 17 games played so far. This nicely backs up the season he had last year where he scored seven goals and assisted eight times in his 44 games played for Derby.
Another player to keep an eye out for is striker James Collins. He is the Rams' leading scorer with seven league goals so far this season. This includes a brace in their recent fixture with Barnsley where he helped them to a 3-0 win. A couple more players who catch the eye are Connor Hourihane who has bags of EFL experience under his belt, and Eiran Cashin who has impressed in the early stages of his Derby County career at centre half.
Port Vale 1-0 Derby County, Saturday 21st December 1995.
We have to go back almost thirty years since Vale last beat Derby County at home. Although this feels like a long time, the sides have only met twice at Vale Park since then. The only goal of the game from this meeting in the 1995/96 season came from Kevin Kent when he headed home Tony Naylor’s cross from the right side. Kent played 115 times for the Valiants and managed seven goals whilst at the club before injury unfortunately forced him to retire aged 30.
The Man in the Middle
Paul Howard has been selected to take charge of this evening's game against Derby County.
Mark Jones and Darren Wilding will be the assistants whilst Grant Taylor will be on hand as the fourth official.