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Nathan Smith eyeing fifth clean sheet in a row this weekend against Notts County

31 October 2018

Port Vale welcome Notts County to Vale Park this weekend in Sky Bet League Two action, and defender Nathan Smith is looking to maintain Vale's impressive clean sheet record of late on Saturday afternoon.

Port Vale will be confident heading into the tie, having extended their unbeaten run to four games last weekend with a win over promotion-chasing Bury.

A key factor in the recent up-turn in form has been Vale's stellar defensive record following the Lincoln City tie. Having now played four games since the league defeat, Neil Aspin's side have recorded a perfect four clean sheets in all competitions, and defender Nathan Smith has played a huge part alongisde Leon Legge and Connell Rawlinson.

The young centre-half has admitted it will be a 'tough game' against Notts County this weekend, but is confident his side can keep their impressive run going.

He said: "You look at them at the bottom end of the table and it's not where we expected them to be after the great season they had last year.

"I'm expecting a tough game but hopefully we can come out of it with three points - but first and foremost for us defenders, we want to get that fifth clean sheet in a row.

"You can definitely see a change in the camp with a lot more positive results coming in. Everyone's going into games now thinking we can clean sheets and win games."

Since the beginning of the season, Smith has been forced to adapt his own game as Neil Aspin's has constantly refreshed the formation of his side as the year has progressed.

Having been used mainly as a centre-back for the majority of his career, the Vale defender has now played on both sides of a back-five  as well as having to play in a three.

Despite the change of position, Smith admits that everyone is feeling positive in the new system and that it has only enhanced his own personal performance.

He said: "At the start of the season I would've said I was most comfortable in a back four but following the last few results, I think everyone's feeling comfortable with this back three, almost five at times.

"What we're playing at the minute, I'm feeling very comfortable and I think it's showing out on the pitch. 

"Usually the day before the game we go through the shape to make us realise if the ball's on one side of the pitch, where perhaps a right centre-half or left centre-half are meant to be. It's just the little things that count."


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