A Boxing Day trip to Burslem...
Jon Whitney’s men will be hoping to give the Saddlers fans some festive cheer with a Boxing Day win at Port Vale. We have an excellent record on 26th December, having won 11 of our 21 Boxing Day matches during the Premier League era, accruing 36 points; only six of the other 91 Premier League and EFL clubs have amassed more. Port Vale, meanwhile, made an encouraging start to the season under new boss Bruno Ribeiro, winning three of their first five matches to climb to fourth. However, form has tailed off in recent weeks, with one win in ten – including none in their last five – seeing them slip to 17th, below the Saddlers on goal difference. We completed the double over the Valiants last season, winning 2-0 at home and 5-0 away.
Port Vale: 17th – P22 W7 D6 L9 F26 A36 PTS27
Walsall: 16th – P22 W6 D9 L7 F25 A31 PTS27
17th December – AFC Wimbledon 4-0 Port Vale – League One
Wimbledon produced an inspired second-half performance to thump Port Vale. Dominic Poleon bundled the Dons ahead on 53 minutes and Tom Elliott headed in a second five minutes later. Tyrone Barnett rifled home to make it 3-0 with five minutes left, before a Chris Robertson header completed the rout.
17th December – Walsall 1-1 Bradford – League One
Isaiah Osbourne scored his first goal in three years as Walsall held high-flying Bradford to a battling draw. After a quiet first half, the Saddlers took the lead on 49 minutes when Osbourne collected a loose ball on the edge of the box before drilling into the far corner. But the Bantams hit back just four minutes later, ex-Saddler Jordy Hiwula netting from a tight angle after his initial effort was saved by the impressive Neil Etheridge.
Port Vale wins: 22
Walsall wins: 40
8th May – Port Vale 0-5 Walsall – League One
Five-star Walsall were forced to settle for a place in the League One play-offs despite a resounding final-day victory at Port Vale. Headed goals from Paul Downing and Tom Bradshaw put the Saddlers in control before Anthony Forde's screamer made it 3-0 at half-time. Forde added a fourth after the break and substitute Sam Mantom netted another long-range blockbuster to cap a stunning win.
Port Vale Manager: Bruno Ribeiro
The 41-year-old became Port Vale’s first foreign boss when he was appointed manager in June 2016, replacing Rob Page. The Portuguese is best known for his spells with Sheffield United and Leeds, for whom he scored four goals in 42 appearances. He has previously managed Portuguese sides Farense, Moura, Pinhalnovense, Vitoria Setubal and Academico de Viseu, as well as Bulgarian team Ludogorets Razgrad.
Port Vale Star Man: Alex Jones
The Sutton Coldfield-born striker joined Vale on loan from Birmingham in the summer and is their top scorer with ten goals in 20 appearances. Port Vale have not lost any of the eight matches in which he has scored, winning six and drawing the other two. The 22-year-old started out with West Brom and played five times on loan at Grimsby in 2015.
Kieron Morris is in contention, while long-term absentees Maz Kouhyar and Reece Flanagan remain on the sidelines.
The Cambridgeshire-based official has taken charge of 25 games this season, brandishing 89 yellow cards and five red. Deadman’s last Saddlers match was our 3-1 play-off semi-final second-leg defeat at home to Barnsley back in May.
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