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Neil Aspin wants more from his forwards to take pressure off Tom Pope

6 September 2018

Tom Pope recently became the record goal scorer at Vale Park, scoring his 56th goal at the ground, but manager Neil Aspin is looking at his other forwards to make more of a contribution.

Unsurprisingly, the captain leads as top goalscorer on three followed by Luke Hannant on two. Popey marked the opening day at Vale Park with two goals against Cambridge before scoring his record breaking goal and third of the season against Newport County at the weekend.

Last season proved the Valiants heavily relied on the goals from Popey. The striker scored 19 goals in all competitions, a country mile in front of anyone else with Cristian Montano next up with six. This season, Neil Aspin wants to take the pressure off Popey in the goal department, but admits it's been hard.

"I think it's a mixed bag at the moment. We've not found a replacement for Tom Pope, I think that's obvious. Not that I want to replace him, I only mean if he was to be injured!

"He's a very hard player to replace. He's an old school centre forward, there's not many people around like him and with his experience and the goals he's provided. I think we've found options now where if we want to make a substitution we've got options off the bench that can liven us up which possibly we didn't have last season.

"In terms of finding a regular partner for Tom, I think we've been a little bit hit and miss so far and we're still waiting for that to happen."

Neil Aspin will be looking for his attackers to add more of a contribution this weekend, when the Valiants travel south to face Forest Green Rovers.

Rovers have had a fairly decent start to the season sitting 7th in the league table and are yet to be beaten at all so far, winning their last two league games after four draws in a row. 

Looking to the end the winless away streak, the gaffer is expecting a tough test at The New Lawn at the weekend but wants his forwards to make it an uncomfortable afternoon for their defence.

"We need to get a result and Forest Green have improved. They improved last year from January where they brought in a lot of players, they've continued to improve their squad, and they've grown used to playing at this level.

"So we go there now against a much better Forest Green and one that is capable of doing well... we went there (last year) and found it difficult, didn't make any chances and lost to a goal from outside the box.

"It's all about confidence and I have to try and make sure that our players are confident when they go out on Saturday and they put on a good display. We certainly need to have more as an attacking threat then we did in our last away game."


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