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Match Previews

WALSALL VS. PORT VALE: MATCH PREVIEW

19 December 2015

The Sean O’Driscoll era begins this Sunday…

Sky Bet League One
Sunday, 20th December 2015 (Kick-off 12.00pm)
Banks’s Stadium
WALSALL VS. PORT VALE

OVERVIEW:
Sean O’Driscoll’s first match as the Saddlers’ new Head Coach is against mid-table Port Vale. Our last home league fixture was three weeks ago – a 2-1 victory over Bradford in Dean Smith’s final game in charge. Walsall are targeting a third consecutive league win this weekend but have only beaten Vale once in their last 11 attempts. Rob Page’s Valiants are 12th in League One, four points off the top six.

LEAGUE STANDINGS:
Walsall: 3rd – P20 W11 D6 L3 F35 A19 PTS39
Port Vale: 12th – P21 W8 D6 L7 F27 A24 PTS30

LAST FIVE LEAGUE MATCHES: (Most recent match first)
Walsall: WWLDW
Port Vale: DLWWW

LAST TIME OUT:
Tuesday, 15th December – Walsall 0-0 Chesterfield (5-3 pens) – FA Cup Second Round Replay
The Saddlers will visit Dean Smith’s Brentford in the FA Cup third round after beating Chesterfield 5-3 on penalties. Spireites skipper Sam Morsy missed the crucial spot-kick, with Paul Downing netting the winning penalty.
Team:Etheridge, Downing, O’Connor, Taylor, Demetriou, Evans, Chambers, Mantom (Lalkovic 68’), Forde (Baxendale 105’), Sawyers, Cook (Morris 85’).
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Flanagan, Preston, Kinsella.


Saturday, 12th December – Port Vale 1-1 Scunthorpe – League One
In-form striker AJ Leitch-Smith scored his sixth goal in seven matches to earn Vale a point. Jack King put Scunthorpe ahead on 36 minutes, but Leitch-Smith equalised on the stroke of half-time.
Team:Alnwick, Purkiss, Duffy, McGivern, Yates, Birchall (Foley 74’), Grant, O’Connor, Kelly, Dodds (Ikpeazu 64’), Leitch-Smith (Hooper 85’).
Subs not used: Neal, Streete, Daniel, Deen Conteh.


HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD:
Walsall wins: 38
Port Vale wins: 22
Draws: 26

LAST MEETING:
14th February 2015 – Walsall 0-1 Port Vale

Tom Pope’s first-half header gave Vale victory and ended Walsall’s five-game unbeaten run. The Saddlers had strong penalty appeals waved away when Ryan Inniss appeared to haul down Jordy Hiwula. And that decision proved costly, as Pope headed home Carl Dickinson’s left-wing cross on 28 minutes. Walsall pushed for an equaliser after the break, with Romaine Sawyers striking a post, but the visitors held on.

PORT VALE MANAGER:
Rob Page – The 41-year-old was appointed Port Vale manager, initially on a caretaker basis, in September 2014. The former Watford, Sheffield United and Coventry defender made over 550 competitive appearances during an 18-year playing career and was capped 41 times by Wales.

VIEW FROM THE PORT VALE CAMP:

outh system and helped the Railwaymen win promotion from League Two in 2011/12.Signed from Yeovil in July 2015, the in-form forward has scored six goals in his last seven appearances in all competitions. The 25-year-old is a product of Crewe’s y
PORT VALE STAR MAN: –AJ Leitch-Smith

Rob Page (on playing Walsall live on Sky Sports) – “It’s an opportunity for the players to go out and give a good account of themselves. On many occasions this season against the Sheffield Uniteds, the Wigans, Burnley in the cup, the West Broms, we’ve gone out and done that. We hope for the same on Sunday but more important it’s about going in and getting that performance and getting the points.”

WALSALL TEAM NEWS:
Top-scorer Tom Bradshaw and left-back Rico Henry are doubts (ankle injuries). Midfielder Isaiah Osbourne (knee) is a long-term absentee.

REFEREE:
Kevin Wright.

STAT OF THE DAY:
We have won only one of our last 11 matches against Port Vale – a 2-1 Capital One Cup victory at Vale Park on 6th August 2013.

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