Vale Park hosts Monday night football in front of the sky cameras this week with Peterborough United providing the challenge for Darrell Clarke’s side.
The Posh returned to the third division after relegation from the Championship last season, and they currently sit 9th in the league on 35 points after 24 games.
Peterborough, like Vale, haven’t had a fixture since New Year’s Day, and they will be looking to return to winning ways after falling to a 3-0 home defeat to Wycombe Wanderers on that occasion.
However, the Valiants came out victorious in their first match of 2023, a dramatic 3-1 late comeback win away at Forest Green Rovers.
Vale haven’t kicked a football at Vale Park since Boxing Day’s win against Morecambe, so upon our return, here is what you need to know about our opponents.
ONE TO WATCH: Jonson Clarke-Harris
Once again, it’s an opposition skipper who will be one to keep an eye on Monday, with the Posh’s skipper Jonson Clarke-Harris being their man threat.
Peterborough’s number nine has enjoyed a strong season so far, with his 13 goals in this campaign putting him top of the scoring charts in league One alongside Bristol Rovers’ Aaron Collins.
Clarke-Harris is currently enduring his second spell at Peterborough having not played a first-team appearance for the Posh in his first spell.
The 28-year-old started his senior career at Coventry City in 2010, and he made his mark at the club becoming their youngest-ever player at 16 years and 21 days old when he made his debut in a League Cup loss to Morecambe.
Unfortunately, his career in the midlands never took off, and after spells with the Posh, and a couple of loans during a three-year period, Clarke-Harris made the move to Oldham Athletic in 2013.
The forward enjoyed a good season in Greater Manchester and impressed on many occasions scoring eight goals, which earnt him a move to Yorkshire to sign for Rotherham United.
He spent four seasons in South Yorkshire before spells at MK Dons, Doncaster Rovers, and Coventry City before a season at Bristol Rovers in 2019/20.
Clarke-Harris’ career really took off at Rovers, with the striker netting 27 goals during 18 months at the club, leading to interest from many clubs.
One of those clubs was the Posh, who swooped in to snatch their man in the summer of 2020, and what a move it has turned out to be for Peterborough’s skipper.
Clarke-Harris hit the ground running in his first season back at the club, securing the golden boot in League One with 31 goals as the Cambridgeshire side secured promotion to the Championship.
Alongside the golden boot, the forward also bagged the Sky Bet League One Player of the Year award, and the club's Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year awards.
The number nine enjoyed a decent season in the second tier despite the team’s relegation and will now be hoping to lead his side back to the Championship this season.
THE MAN AT THE HELM: Darren Ferguson
New Year’s Day’s defeat to Wycombe proved to be the final match Grant McCann would take in charge of the Posh, and it took them no time to replace him with the reliable Peterborough club legend, Darren Ferguson.
Ferguson has been brought in on a six-month contract with the aim of getting Peterborough back up the table, and challenging for promotion,
When the 50-year-old steps out into the away dugout on Monday night, it will be the start of his fourth spell as Posh manager.
After an 18-year playing career, which ended in Cambridgeshire, Ferguson was appointed Peterborough manager for the first time in 2007.
In his first spell at the club, he led the club to two successive promotions, guiding the Posh into the Championship for the first time in over 15 years.
A short spell as Preston North End gaffer then followed before Ferguson was appointed Peterborough boss for the second time in 2011.
Once again, the Scotsman guided the Cambridgeshire side to the Championship, his third promotion in four years, this time via the playoffs.
Ferguson left the Posh again in 2015 by mutual consent and moved up to Yorkshire to take on the role at Doncaster Rovers.
After three years up North, where he oversaw their promotion back up to League One in 2017, he returned to Peterborough for the third time.
Much like this appointment, he was brought in on a short-term basis on 26 January 2019, and although he didn’t gain promotion in the first six months, he continued in his role and Peterborough climbed back up into the Championship in May 2021.
Now he is back once again, only one year after leaving, and Darrell Clarke will be hoping that he can make Ferguson’s return to the Posh an uncomfortable one under the lights on Monday night.
HEAD-TO-HEAD LAST FIVE:
Vale wins: 1
Peterborough wins: 2
Peterborough has the better of the recent record between the two sides, with many of the games being close affairs.
The Valiants last victory over the Cambridgeshire side came away at London Road back in 2016, a chaotic 3-2 victory.
Darrell Clarke’s side will be hoping they can continue their recent good form at Vale Park this Monday night.