The first matchday of the Papa John’s Trophy is approaching, and it is last year’s National League Champions, Stockport County, that are coming to Vale Park on Tuesday.
The Greater Manchester side are now enjoying life in Sky Bet League Two after promotion last season, currently sitting 19th in the table after a 1-1 draw against Swindon Town on Saturday.
Vale also sit in 19th in the table, but in Sky Bet League One, after the narrow loss at the weekend to Portsmouth.
This will be the Valiants’ second of three home fixtures on the trot and here is some interesting pre-match reading about our opponents.
One to Watch: Antoni Sarcevic
County’s number 10 will be the one to look out for in this match, after a good start to the season for the midfielder, he will be keen to keep the performances going.
Antoni Sarcevic is a Manchester-born player and started his youth career at Manchester City, before playing for many teams in the north-west professionally.
His career has seen him play for the likes of Crewe Alexandra, Fleetwood Town, Shrewsbury Town, and Plymouth Argyle.
The well-travelled player also became a star at Bolton Wanderers in more recent times before he swapped the Whites for County in November of last year.
After a solid first season for Stockport, Sarcevic has really kicked on, scoring three goals in his first six league appearances this season.
If the 30-year-old does play at Vale Park, he will be looking to net his fourth of the campaign, which would mean he would equal his goal tally of last season before we have even got to September, but let’s hope he doesn’t manage that in Burslem.
The Man at the Helm: Dave Challinor
Dave Challinor is the man in the opposition’s dugout, having taken over at Stockport back in November last season.
Challinor hasn’t just been at County as a manager, but also as a player, playing at Edgeley Park between 2002-2004 as a centre-back.
His playing days came to an end in 2011, with his last season in football being as player-manager at Colwyn Bay.
Then came an eight-year stint as manager of AFC Fylde which saw a lot of success, including multiple promotions and an FA Trophy win for the club.
Hartlepool United then came calling for Challinor, and once again his time there proved successful, with the 46-year-old guiding the Pools back to the football league for the first time since 2017.
Despite signing a new deal with Hartlepool in September of 2021, Challinor decided he needed a new challenge and moved to Greater Manchester in November.
Once again, the boss at Edgeley Park oversaw a promotion, with County sealing their return back into Sky Bet League Two as National League Champions last campaign.
Papa John’s Trophy Second Round, Vale Park, Tuesday 6th October 2009: Port Vale 3-1 Stockport County
We go back 13 years to the very same fixture in the very same competition, and in this one it was Vale that came out on top 3-1, knocking the visitors out of the cup.
Lewis Haldane, Louis Dodds, and Marc Richards were the goal scorers for the Valiants, with all the goals coming in the first 13 minutes of the match, a lightning-quick start.
It was Haldane that got the goals flowing in just the 4th minute, driving home the opener after being fed through by Richards.
Only minutes later, Dodds doubled the hosts lead calmly slotting home his effort past Paul Gerrard, with Richards once again being the provider.
Richards then decided he too wanted to get in on the act, and in the 13th minute, he did just that, connecting well on the half-volley with a Kris Taylor cross to score Vale’s third and final of the night.
Just under 10 minutes later, the visitors decided to wake up, and it was Liam Bridcutt who struck them back into the game from 30 yards out.
However, the goal only turned out to be a consolation, and despite lots of efforts from County, they couldn’t get quite back into it.
Unfortunately, Vale would go on to get knocked out in the quarterfinals on penalties to Bradford City, but if they start tonight how the team of 13 years ago did, we are in for an exciting match.
Port Vale | Martin, Stockley, McCombe, Collins, Owen, Griffith, Fraser, Taylor, Richards (86’ Guy), Dodds (72’ Howland), Haldane (77’ Lawrie)
Unused Subs | Anyon, Yates,
Stockport County | Gerrard, Mullins, Rose, Raynes, Havern, Turnbull, Bridcutt (74’ Tansey), Baker, Griffin (75’ Poole), Pilkington (74’ Vincent), Thompson
Unused Subs | Fon Williams, Halls
Ins and Outs:
County has brought in a few fresh faces as they look to bolster their squad whilst back in the football league.
One of those new players is Callum Camps who arrives in Greater Manchester after two years in Sky Bet League One with Fleetwood Town.
Stockport also got their wallets out for centre-half Joe Lewis, who played his trade down at Torquay United before his money move to the north-west.
All arrivals | Joe Lewis, Callum Camps, Kyle Wootton, Akil Wright, Fraser Horsfall, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, James Brown, Vitezslav Jaros
Since promotion, many players have also left the club, with a total of 13 players parting ways with Stockport.
One of those players is Ben Whitfield, who is now doing very well at Sky Bet League Two side Barrow in the centre of midfield.
Established centre-back Liam Hogan has also left the club, but he hasn’t travelled too far away as he now plays his football at Oldham Athletic.
All Departures | Liam Hogan, Tom Walker, Jamie Stott, Lois Maynard, Sam Minihan, Jordan Keane, Ben Whitfield, Millenic Alli, Joshua Schofield, Alex Reid, Ethan Ross, Ben Barclay, Ethan Pye
Despite Paddy Madden’s red card in their last fixture against Swindon Town, the striker will be available for selection as suspensions do not carry over into this competition.
13/08/22: Stockport County 1-0 Colchester, Sky Bet League Two
16/08/22: Doncaster Rovers 2-1 Stockport County, Sky Bet League Two
20/08/22: Mansfield 2-1 Stockport County, Sky Bet League Two
23/08/22: Stockport County 0(1)-0(3) Leicester City, Carabao Cup second round
27/08/22: Stockport County 1-1 Swindon Town, Sky Bet League Two