Port Vale v Bristol Rovers Match Preview
By Simon Gray
Bristol Rovers head to Vale Park this weekend still looking for their first away win of 2017.
The Pirates are now 7 away league games without a win with the run stretching back to October.
The good news for Rovers though is that they are now managing to defend better in matches, since the transfer window shut last month, Rovers have kept two clean sheets in three matches with two new signings already becoming fan favourites.
Both goalkeeper Joe Lumley and defender Ryan Sweeney have played every minute of the three matches and look like very good acquisitions going into the business end of the season but Rovers’ First Team Coach Steve Yates has warned the pair against complacency.
“They have both made good starts, but that is all it is. We expect them all to carry on that level of consistency,” he told the Bristol Post.
“We’ve been pleased with their performances up to now, but it is important that they can perform to that standard week-in-and-week-out.
“They have all had an impact in helping us tighten up and long may that continue. The defence has done a great job in recent weeks, but, overall, I don’t think we have been as bad as the record over the first-half of the season suggests.
“We haven’t conceded too many chances, but the ratio of chances to goals against us has been very high. It seemed as if every time a team created a chance they’d score a goal. But we have tightened up considerably and it is good to see.”
Darrell Clarke has no new injury worries after his players came through the 0-0 draw with Sheffield United unscathed. Steve Mildenhall, Peter Hartley and Jake Clarke-Salter and Lee remain long-term absentees.
Port Vale go into the game on the back of a horrific run in League One with just two wins in their last 18.
Vale started well but their form dipped in October and are now locked in a relegation battle. They sit just two points off the drop zone in 20th place
A run of six games without a win saw their manager Bruno Ribiero resign in December, with veteran midfeilder Michael Brown take over.
Vale are likely to be without Remie Streete for some time after the defender suffered a suspected broken leg in their midweek defeat at Millwall.
Midfielder Anthony de Freitas could also be out after suffering a groin injury while it is still unclear when Jerome Thomas (calf) will return after an apparent disagreement with Michael Brown.
Port Vale are on a six match winless run, Rovers have won just once in their last six games.
Rovers came from behind to win 2-1 when these two sides met earlier in the season, Jermaine Easter scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.
Rovers have not beaten Port Vale away from home since 1992, a run of seven matches.