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Preview | Nathan Smith looks ahead to Bristol Rovers clash

21 April 2023

Defender speaks to the media ahead of the visit of Bristol Rovers to Vale Park on Saturday.

  • Preview | Nathan Smith looks ahead to Bristol Rovers clash
  • Port Vale’s Nathan Smith discusses Bristol Rovers, Ipswich Town performance, League One status and importance of the Valiants supporters on Saturday
  • Smith: “We know what we are capable of and the hunger is there to get the win”

Port Vale defender Nathan Smith has called for togetherness from players and supporters as the Valiants look to secure the points required to retain League One status in the final three matches of the League One season.

Smith was speaking to the media ahead of Saturday’s visit of Bristol Rovers to Vale Park on Saturday, explaining that the penultimate home game of the 2022/23 season will clearly be important for the team.

“We know that it is coming towards the end of the season and we need to produce points,” Smith said. “We’ve got three games left and the concentration is on the next one. We know the importance of getting the points as early as possible to ease the pressure towards the end of the season and hopefully we can end on a little bit of a high, after a dip that we’ve had since probably New Year now.

“Like I always say, they [Vale supporters] can pull us over the line when they are on form, cheering for us with togetherness. It shows on the pitch that they’ve got their part to play and we’re calling now more than ever for them to help us finish off the season with the security of League One.”

The 27-year-old took encouragement from Tuesday night’s performance at Ipswich Town, highlighting the unity within the performance as a key attribute.

“I think that Ipswich are arguably the best team in the league and to go there, frustrate them, go in front and narrowly lose, we’re taking confidence from that.

“We are a group of players that are really together and pulling in the same direction and hopefully we can confirm that safety come the weekend.”

Smith is likely to bring up 350 Vale appearances before the end of the season and, when asked about the importance of his experience, he explained that it was important senior players led by example.

“There’s a few players in the dressing room who have been down in pressure situations and I’m one of them,” Smith continued. “We have been in a battle before down in League Two, when we’ve come out successfully and for players to lean on you, that’s totally fine.

“You can give them the experience that you’ve had, the knowledge of what you’ve got to do. You have almost got to be emotionless, you have got to put the occasion to the side, its another game of football and you’ve just got to concentrate on the task at hand.

Smith was quick to mention the performance of fellow Port Vale Academy graduate James Plant, who made his first league start on Tuesday night at Ipswich Town.

The Vale defender recalled his own experience of making his league debut at Bradford City in 2016.

“I have to say how well I thought he did,” Smith continued. “He stepped up in front of one of the hardest occasions that you possibly could have for a full debut and I think he came out with all guns blazing, he was a shining star on the pitch and it is the start of a good career for him.”

“I will always remember [my debut]; I don’t think it quite compares and Ipswich away probably tips that - he’ll be able to take that one. Like I say, he’s got an exciting future ahead of him. He’s shown what he’s capable of in a position that he probably doesn’t play as well, which is testament to the type of guy that he is and his determination to be best player possible.

“We were playing arguably the best team in the league and I think it was a disappointment again to not come away with a point. To say that away at Ipswich just shows you how well we did. The confidence is high and we know what we are capable of and the hunger is there to get the win.”

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