After Vale made 11 changes for the Football League trophy win over Newcastle United under-21s, it’s pretty much a certainty that there will be a fair few changes to the line up. Regulars Scott Brown, Nathan Smith, Leon Legge and the unsung hero Luke Joyce will all be expected to return to the starting XI. Of the team which played on Tuesday night, midfielder Tom Conlon and Mark Cullen will be challenging for a place in the squad. Jordan Archer remains a concern for the home game after he picked up a knock against Newcastle under 21s. Manny Oyeleke and Adam Crookes are both out of the weekend fixture with hamstring and thigh injuries.
The clubs last met in January at Vale Park. The Valiants ended with ten men as Ricky Miller was dismissed and Carlisle ended up as 1-0 winners. The Valiants have a poor recent record against the Cumbrians having lost the last three matches. Vale have to go back to 2015 for their last home win. It ended 1-0 thanks to a winner from Uche Ikpeazu. The overall record is thirteen wins for Port Vale, fourteen wins for Carlisle United and ten draws.
Manager Steven Pressley left Carlisle this week which means that assistant Gavin Skelton will be in caretaker charge for this match. The main goal threat will be on loan Olufela Olomola who has netted six times from just thirteen starts. Veteran Adam Collin will be in goal while former Aston Villa forward Harry McKirdy offers skill and craft upfront. Managerless Carlisle only have Kelvin Etuhu on the injured list, although there are slight doubts over the fitness of Stefan Scougall and Mo Sagaf. Byron Webster is back after serving a suspension.
John Askey speaking to club tv said “Carlisle have sacked Steven Pressley so we don’t know how they are going to set up. They are managerless and are without a manager’s style. It’s always sad seeing someone getting sacked but its part and parcel now of football.” He added “We’ve just got to concentrate on our ourselves if we can get an early goal they will have to come at us a bit more and hopefully we can take advantage of that. Confidence is high in the dressing room, we got a good spirit and the lads get on well.”
Askey referred to Tuesday night and said: “Resilience was shown very well in the last game and all the bunch reacted very well to the setbacks, they showed a winning mentality which we want to keep going, and it was vital we got the result on Tuesday. The last thing we wanted was to lose the game in that fashion and automatically doubt would creep in so the win has given the players a much needed boost.”
Tom Conlon who featured on Tuesday night added: “We are unbeaten at home in the league and it is down to us to keep the run going. We must be solid at back and make it horrible for teams coming here that’s our job. The rest is down to fans to make it a fortress and push us on.”
Port Vale midfielder Luke Joyce will be facing a club for whom he made over 150 appearances during two spells with the club. Joyce left Carlisle in 2018 when he opted to join the Valiants on a free transfer. There could be a second Carlisle man in Vale’s ranks as Richie Bennett is set to face his former club. Bennett scored twelve times In 73 appearances while at Carlisle.
It’s fair to say that classics between the two sides have been a bit thin on the ground. Vale’s biggest victory came way back in 1930. After a 4-1 away win back in 1930, the Valiants followed it up with a 4-0 home victory in February. Sam Jennings and Harry Anstiss were the goalscorers. Vale went on to win the North Third Division back in February.
By Raheil Mehboob