Our final league fixture of the 2015/16 campaign...
Sunday, 8th May 2016 (Kick-off 12.30pm)
Sky Bet League One
Over 3,300 Walsall supporters will be descending on Vale Park this Sunday for a potentially pivotal final-day fixture. The Saddlers must win and hope already-relegated Doncaster beat Burton (full list of permutations below). Jon Whitney’s men are in good form, having won four in six – including the last two. Rob Page’s mid-table Port Vale, meanwhile, are playing for pride, although they do possess the joint-fourth best home record in League One.
- Walsall must beat Port Vale and hope Burton lose at Doncaster (with a three-goal swing) to secure automatic promotion. For example: a 2-0 Saddlers win, coupled with a 1-0 Brewers defeat, will see us finish second on goals scored.
- If Burton avoid defeat, then Walsall will be in the play-offs irrespective of the result at Vale Park.
- A draw against Port Vale would guarantee us third place and a play-off meeting with either Barnsley, Scunthorpe or Gillingham, who are each fighting for sixth spot.
- If the Saddlers lose, then we could finish fourth – but only if Millwall also win at Gillingham. In that case, we would play Bradford in the play-offs.
Port Vale: 12th – P45 W18 D11 L16 F56 A53 PTS65
Walsall: 3rd – P45 W23 D12 L10 F66 A49 PTS81
LAST FIVE LEAGUE MATCHES: (Most recent match first)
Port Vale: LWWWL
LAST TIME OUT:
30th April – Scunthorpe 1-0 Port Vale – League One
Scunthorpe kept their play-off hopes alive with victory over Port Vale. Paddy Madden scored the only goal to extend the Iron's winning run to five matches.
Team:Alnwick, Yates (Moore 74’), Duffy, McGivern, Purkiss, O’Connor (Kelly 73’), Brown, Foley, Dickinson, Robinson (Leitch-Smith 65’), Hooper.
Subs not used: Birchall, Boot, Turner.
2nd May – Walsall 3-1 Fleetwood – League One
Walsall eased to a comfortable victory over struggling Fleetwood to take the automatic promotion race to the season's final day. Tom Bradshaw, Paul Downing and Romaine Sawyers scored our goals, with Devante Cole netting the visitors’ consolation.
Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, O’Connor, Downing, Henry, Chambers, Morris (Mantom 64’), Sawyers (Cook 85’), Forde, Lalkovic (Hiwula 72’), Bradshaw.
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Taylor, Preston, Kinsella.
Port Vale: 22
Walsall wins: 39
20th December 2015 – Walsall 2-0 Port Vale – League One
Super-sub Jordan Cook scored a second-half brace to give Sean O'Driscoll the perfect start as Walsall head coach. The striker broke the deadlock just four minutes after coming on when he fired home from close range after Anthony Forde's shot was parried. And he made the points safe seven minutes from time, with a fine curling finish into the corner.
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.
PORT VALE STAR MAN:
AJ Leitch-Smith – Signed from Yeovil in July 2015, the Crewe-born forward has scored 12 goals in 42 league and cup appearances for Vale this season. The 26-year-old is a product of Crewe’s youth system and helped the Railwaymen win promotion from League Two in 2011/12.
VIEW FROM THE PORT VALE CAMP:
Rob Page (on Vale’s 1-0 defeat at Scunthorpe) – “There were two teams having a go, not much between them and it is from our throw-in that leads to their goal. I’m disappointed to concede in the manner we did. Again we threw everything at them for the last 10 to 15 minutes and they had to put a centre half on to sit in the middle of the park, just to soak up the pressure. Credit to them it worked for them but it could have been a draw.”
WALSALL TEAM NEWS:
Midfielders Reece Flanagan (ACL) and Isaiah Osbourne (knee) are both out.
STAT OF THE DAY:
Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s match, Walsall are guaranteed to finish the season with League One’s best away record.
SUNDAY’S LEAGUE ONE FIXTURES (Kick-off 12.30pm):
Bradford vs. Chesterfield
Bury vs. Southend
Colchester vs. Rochdale
Doncaster vs. Burton
Fleetwood vs. Crewe
Gillingham vs. Millwall
Oldham vs. Coventry
Peterborough vs. Blackpool
Sheff Utd vs. Scunthorpe
Swindon vs. Shrewsbury
Wigan vs. Barnsley