The Vale go into Saturday’s game against Oxford United fresh off the back of a Carabao Cup Round Two victory against Crewe Alexandra.
After ninety minutes the game was goalless but the Valiants progressed through to Round Three following a 2-0 penalty shootout victory.
James Wilson and Ollie Arblaster scored their penalties for Vale, whereas Crewe missed all four spot kicks to set up a Round Three tie against Sutton United.
In the league, Vale haven’t looked back since their opening-day defeat at Barnsley, picking up ten points from our last four league games which include wins over Reading, Charlton Athletic and, more recently, Carlisle United where James Wilson’s penalty helped us to a 1-0 win at Vale Park.
“It’s a game to look forward to, it’s our next one. We set our mantra out at the start of the season that we want to be competitive in every single game and that’s what we’ve tried to do. Sometimes results indicate one thing and don’t indicate the other. That’s our mantra, that we’ll go to Oxford and be really competitive.
“The recent results have given us confidence in what we’re trying to do but were right in the infancy of that. We’re a new group, we’ve only been together a few weeks and that’s it, so there’s going to be bumps in the road but we’re making progress and as long as we keep on doing that we’ll be happy.”
Saturday’s hosts currently sit on top of the league after five games. They have picked up twelve points so far, after winning four out of five games. They come into the game off the back of four consecutive wins against Carlisle United, Derby County, Barnsley and more recently Charlton Athletic who they beat 2-1 at the Kassam Stadium. Tyler Goodrham found the net in each half to earn Oxford maximum points.
After finishing in 19th place last season. Oxford are enjoying a much more positive campaign this time around. This is partly down to some very impressive summer recruitment and also the appointment of Manager Liam Manning who joined in March last season.
After keeping The U’s in the division, The 38-year-old has now guided them to top spot after just five games. Manning is only in his third managerial job of his career. His first role as manager was with Belgian First Division B side Lommel SK where he guided them to a third-place finish in the 2020/21 season. He then joined MK Dons in August 2021 where he oversaw them finish in third place in League One, picking up two manager of the month awards along the way. Despite finishing on 89 points, Manning and his MK Dons side missed out on automatic promotion by just one point. To add further salt to the wounds, they exited the Play Offs in the Semi-Final after a defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.
The following season, Manning was relieved of his position as manager in December after The Dons managed just fifteen points in their opening twenty games.
Player to Watch – Mark Harris
The Welsh international joined Oxford United in the summer from Cardiff City. Harris began his career at the Bluebirds and went on to make 87 appearances for the club after he joined as an 8-year-old boy in 2006.
Vale fans will be familiar with Harris as he joined the club on loan in 2019. However, he only made three starts and three substitute appearances for the club.
In the 2021-22 season, Harris made 34 appearances for Cardiff as a reward for his high work rate in training. After impressing that season, he then featured 38 times in the 2022/23 season, earning himself a new contract which he turned down and joined Oxford United.
In August 2021 he received his full senior call-up for Wales, He then made his debut as a substitute in their 3-2 victory against Belarus in the 2022 World Cup qualifying game In September 2021. He was also included in Wales’ squad that went to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.
Last Time We Met
Port Vale 0-0 Oxford United, Saturday 10th April 2023.
The sides met at the back end of the last season with Vale looking for revenge after defeat in the reverse fixture. After an uneventful first half, the game sparked into life after the break.
Tom Pett came close for the vale with an effort that was well saved by Simon Eastwood before Tom Conlon hit the top of the bar with a close-range strike. Not long later, Aidan Stone was forced into action to deny Gatlin O’Donkor after he took aim from the left side of the box.
Vale dominated the second half but failed to take their chances in a game where Dennis Politic was shown a red card in second half added time.
Port Vale 2-0 Oxford United, Saturday 3rd November 2017.
The sides met in the 2017/18 FA Cup First Round at Vale Park and it was The Vale who ran out 2-0 winners on the day. Gavin Gunning put us ahead in the 16th minute when he headed home a cross from the right side. Tom Pope then doubled the Valiants' lead in the 53rd minute to help us progress into the Second Round.
Tickets for the game are available to purchase from the club's ticket website until 14:00 on Friday 1st September and will be available at the Kassam Stadium on the day of the game. However, please be advised that there is a £3 price increase.