Vale’s busy February schedule sees its final match this weekend as we face Bolton Wanderers away from home on Saturday.
The Whites are currently fourth in League One, whilst the Valiants sit in a strong 12th place, and we will be looking to fire ourselves into the top half if results go our way.
Before the two sides clash at the weekend, here is some pre-match reading.
The view from Darrell Clarke:
Clarke said: “Sometimes the underdog does win, and we have shown at Plymouth and Derby this season that we can put in good performances on the road against top teams and we will try and do exactly the same tomorrow.
“We can take confidence from those wins and know that we have achieved it before, so why can’t we achieve it again?
“We will go after them like we do, try to win the game, we are not there to soak up pressure, that’s for sure.”
Opposition Boss’ thoughts:
“The players are fully focused. We had a meeting on Thursday morning and spoke about how proud I am that they’ve managed to achieve it (reach the final),” said Ian Evatt.
“But for now, that’s parked. The time for that game will come. We’ve got more than enough time to prepare for that in between the league campaign.
“For now, it’s about focusing on what we need to do in the league and that starts on Saturday with Port Vale.”
Sky Bet League Two, The University of Bolton Stadium, Saturday 5th December 2020: Bolton Wanderers 3-6 Port Vale
Why not take a trip down memory lane, to the last time we defeated the Trotters at the University of Bolton Stadium?
We travel back to 2020, and Vale hadn’t beaten Wanderers since 1988, that all changed though, with the Valiants putting six past Bolton in their own backyard.
It was the first time the Whites had conceded six goals at their current stadium, and it was Manny Oyeleke who started the fireworks after just six minutes.
All of Vale’s goals came from different scorers and after Oyeleke’s prodded finish, we added another three minutes later through Leon Legge, after he latched on to a wonderful David Worrall cross.
However, Vale’s two-goal lead didn’t last long when the hosts Gethin Jones cut inside, had his initial shot blocked but his second curling effort nestled into the bottom right corner.
This crazy game showed no signs of slowing down in the first half when with just four minutes of the first period remaining, Devante Rodney won the visitors a penalty.
It was Tom Conlon who was given the duty of taking the kick, and he slotted it away into the top right-hand corner with ease, restoring the two-goal lead.
New half of football, the same result, just minutes after the break Vale continued applying the pressure and added a stunning fourth when Cristian Montano executed a lovely chip over Matt Gilks.
The goals just didn’t stop coming for the Valiants, and in the 50th minute, they got their fifth with Worrall turning from provider to scorer when he broke through and rifled home into the bottom corner, the Vale were running rampant.
They didn’t stop there though, and Worrall was involved once again completing a hattrick of assists when he lofted a ball into Nathan Smith’s path to head home, it was now 6-1, an unbelievable score line.
Bolton didn’t go down without a fight though, getting two goals in the remaining 25 minutes through Eoin Doyle and Lloyd Isgrove, making the scoreline more respectable for the Wanderers.
The result was a huge one, after having lost a few on the bounce it was a much-needed lift, a couple of months later Vale secured the services of Darrell Clarke, with the gaffer leading the team away from the drop and into a 13th place finish that season.
Last Time Out (League):
Sky Bet League One, University of Bolton Stadium, Saturday 18th February 2023: Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Bolton Wanderers
Wanderers suffered a first defeat in six games following a run of five successive league wins Lewis Wing’s first half strike propelled Wycombe Wanderers to a 1-0 victory at Adams Park.
Wing’s third goal in two matches secured the Chairboys' victory when they grabbed a vital win over fellow play-off-pushing Bolton.
The midfielder finished home from a well-worked corner routine in the eighth minute of stoppage time.
Despite being beaten by Wing, James Trafford produced a brilliant display between the sticks for the Whites, first keeping out a brilliant Sam Vokes header from close range.
Trafford then also managed to stop Brandon Hanlan when he went through one-on-one, keeping the scores level at the time.
The visitors searched for an equaliser in the second half, and they nearly got one through Declan John, but he fired over the bar from inside the area.
Max Stryjek then produced a magnificent fingertip save to prevent Elias Kachunga from netting an acrobatic equaliser late on.
Sky Bet League One, Vale Park, Saturday 13th August 2022: Port Vale 0-0 Bolton Wanderers
Back in August, Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos saw red in an entertaining affair at Vale Park which ended in a stalemate, despite Vale’s exciting second-half display.
It is currently the only 0-0 the Valiants have played out so far in the league this campaign, but it was not short of entertainment, as the two teams combined for a total 29 efforts on goal.
The fiery encounter came to a head in the 37th minute when new signing Ellis Harrison managed to roll Bolton captain Santos and seemingly break away.
However, the Wanderers centre-back, who was already on a yellow card, tugged our number 22 down and was sent his marching orders.
The decision rattled the opposition bench, with a coach being booked in the aftermath, and visiting boss Ian Evatt’s reaction saw him sent to the stands in the half-time interval.
It was Bolton who had the first clear effort of the game, Oladapo Afolayan drove into the box and unleashed a great strike from a tight angle, but Jack Stevens got down well and pushed it past the post.
The fast pace start from both sides continued, and it took brilliant defending from Vale to prevent the visitors from taking the lead in the 12th minute when the ball was hauled off the line after a scramble in the box from a corner.
Two minutes later it was the Valiants on the attack, after great build-up play on the left side, the ball sat up nicely for Ben Garrity, who then smashed a half-volley just wide.
The action was relentless in this match, and more brilliant defending from Vale saw another goal-line clearance, with Hall involved again as he heroically blocked George Johnston’s effort on the line.
Stevens then showed what he could do, producing a stunning save to prevent a wonderful Aaron Morley long-range effort from nestling into the top corner.
Trafford then saw it fit to show what he was capable of in goal, producing an unbelievable stop to deny Harrison’s close-range header, keeping the scores level.
Garrity came very close to snatching it at the death when his header just went over the bar after a brilliant cross from Funso Ojo.
Kyle Dempsey and Cameron Jerome are set to return to action for the Trotters after knocks that kept them out in midweek.
Dan Nlundulu, Shola Shoretire, and Victor Adeboyejo should also return to the squad after missing the midweek fixture.
04/02/23: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Cheltenham Town, Sky Bet League One
11/02/23: Peterborough United 0-5 Bolton Wanderers, Sky Bet League One
14/02/23: Bolton Wanderers 5-0 MK Dons, Sky Bet League One
18/02/23: Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Bolton Wanderers, Sky Bet League One
22/02/23: Accrington Stanley 0-2 Bolton Wanderers, Papa Johns Trophy Semi-Final