Pope excited by strike partnership
Last season’s League 2 Player of the Year Tom Pope is confident he can forge a powerful strike partnership with new signing Gavin Tomlin after the two were paired together upfront against Derby County last night.
Tomlin joined the Valiants from former League 2 rivals Southend United and finished their top scorer with 16 goals in all competitions last season and Pope believes they combined well against a well-drilled Derby County side.
“Gavin is a very clever player, he holds the ball up quite well, even though he’s small he backs in well and he’s got a good brain and I thought we combined quite well in the first-half and the start of the second,” Pope explained.
With four strikers on the books at Vale Park and all four scoring a hatful of goals during pre-season, competition will be fierce for the starting spots between Pope, Tomlin, Ben Williamson and Lee Hughes, but Pope believes it’s about the squad scoring not just one or two.
Pope said: “Every decent club is going to have that (competition for places) and if we want to get to where we want which hopefully will be Championship football you’ve got to have a good squad of players.
He added: “Everybody has got to be fighting and keeping on their toes ready for action if called upon.”
Vale proved a handful from set pieces with two of Vale’s three coming from set pieces delivered by new signing Chris Lines. Pope himself managed to get on the end of a perfectly executed free-kick before another new signing Chris Robertson headed home from Lines’ corner.
Pope is now on seven goals over the pre-season period and is feeling confident he can get the goals in League 1 for Vale - if they stick to how they have been playing in recent matches.
“We looked a real threat on set pieces, certainly Lines with his delivery and Chris (Robertson) is a threat in the air.”
Pope explained: “As long as we keep playing the way we have done, we’ve got wingers and Chris Lines who can ping some great delivers in now from set-pieces and everyone knows I thrive on deliveries into the box.
“If we can keep doing that then I don’t see a reason why I can’t score goals.”