Just over a week after Vale’s brilliant win against the league leaders, Plymouth Argyle, we will be travelling down the M5 once again, this time to Bristol Rovers.
Rovers gained promotion from League Two last season, and they now lie in 15th in League One on 25 points, and they have shown their quality against some strong sides this season.
Last week, Darrell Clarke’s former side showed a strong performance away at Bolton Wanderers, but they had to settle for just a single point after the hosts netted a stoppage-time equaliser
Meanwhile, Vale’s last fixture was a memorable one as we ended Plymouth’s nine-match home win streak, with James Wilson netting a brace to secure a 2-0 victory.
We currently sit 9th in League One after 20 games, and if we grab the three points on Saturday afternoon, Vale will be threatening the playoff positions once again.
This weekend’s match will be an interesting clash, so here is what you need to know about Rovers before we lock horns with them on Saturday.
ONE TO WATCH: Aaron Collins
Rovers’ star player so far this campaign, Aaron Collins, currently sits second in the League One goalscoring charts, and has shown his quality since the step up to League One.
The 25-year-old joined the Gas at the start of the 2021 season and has netted 26 league goals in his time at the club.
Collins started his academy career with Bristol but then moved back to his homeland of Wales to develop his skills with Newport County.
The forward was moved into the senior setup at County in 2014, and after two seasons and one loan with Merthyr Town, he earned himself a big move to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Unfortunately for the young attacker, his move to the midlands never worked out, and after five loans in four seasons and no first-team appearances, he made a permanent move to Morecambe.
Collins impressed in his short spell at Morecambe before moving to Forest Green Rovers in 2019, where he netted 16 times in two years at the club.
The Gas’ number 10 made his move down to Bristol from FGR in June 2021, and he hasn’t looked back since.
If Vale want to secure a good result down in the southwest, stopping Collins from scoring will certainly help.
THE MAN AT THE HELM: Joey Barton
One of the most well-known managers in the division, Joey Barton has been in the dugout at Rovers since February 2021.
As most football fans will know, Barton played at the highest level of English football with the likes of Manchester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, and Burnley.
The former midfielder is possibly most well-known for his stint in Manchester, where he made over 150 appearances for the club.
Whilst Barton played mostly in the English leagues, he also had short spells in France with Marseille, and Scotland with Rangers.
Arguably, the 40-year-old’s most significant achievement in his playing career was the time he pulled on a three lions shirt in 2007, with his sole England cap coming in a friendly against Spain.
After his 15-year-playing career, Barton moved into coaching in the summer of 2018 after he was appointed as manager of Fleetwood Town.
The Liverpool-born manager spent just under three years with the Cod Army before moving down south where he was appointed as manager at Rovers.
Barton has shown his managerial credentials whilst in Bristol, saving them from Relegation in his first campaign before guiding the Gas to automatic promotion from League Two last campaign.
With Rovers now well-positioned in League One, Barton will be hoping his team can build on their position in the coming months.
STADIUM: Memorial Stadium
The Memorial Stadium, also known as the Mem, has been the home of the Gas since 1996, and it can hold a capacity of just under 10,000 fans.
Our last trip to the Mem was a memorable one for the Valiants, as we battled to a 2-1 win in horrible conditions, with Ben Garrity netting a brace for us.
HEAD-TO-HEAD LAST FIVE:
Vale wins: 1
Bristol R wins: 3
Unfortunately, it is tomorrow’s hosts that have the better of the last five games between the two sides.
However, with Darrell Clarke returning to where he was once hailed a hero, Vale will be looking to secure all three points at the Mem once again.