Port Vale manager John Askey has challenged his side to rediscover their winning touch on Saturday ahead of their trip to the North West to face a rejuvenated Oldham Athletic side that will be without their manager Harry Kewell.
John Askey’s men were unable to follow on from their late winner against Salford City last weekend after they were comfortably beaten by Cambridge United on Tuesday night and will look to avoid defeat on the road this time round.
Theo Robinson had equalised for the Vale after they fell behind to a Paul Mullin fifth-minute opener, but Mullin added two more in the second half to condemn the Valiants to a second loss in three games.
After a shaky start to their SkyBet League Two campaign, Oldham have picked up a vital four points from their last two games – including a 95th minute winner against Lancashire rivals Bolton Wanderers last Saturday, and a well-fought 1-1 draw at home to Carlisle United in the week.
They will however be without their manager Harry Kewell however, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday night, with Alan Maybury expected to be in charge on the sidelines at Boundary Park.
Zak Dearnley – Oldham
A former product of the Manchester United academy, attacking option Zak Dearnley has settled back into life well at the Latics after making last season’s loan move a permanent one.
Dearnley has scored two goals in his four appearances this term, with both of those goals coming in his last two games.
The 22-year-old’s winner against Bolton came in the 95th minute whilst his finish 10 minutes from time against Carlisle resulted in Oldham’s first points at home this season.
David Worrall – Port Vale
Often the source of creating goals for Vale last season, wide-man David Worrall’s could be the inspiration needed to guide Port Vale to the win in Greater Manchester.
The 30-year-old registered 11 assists last year and will look to add to his one he has to his name so far.
Summer signing McKirdy and midfielder Oyeleke have both been suffering from muscle strains and it could be some time before either return to full fitness.
Port Vale Predicted Line-Up: Brown; Clark, Smith, Legge, Fitzpatrick; Joyce, Conlon, Whitehead, Montano, Worrall, Robinson.
After making a host of changes during mid-week, Oldham could keep an unchanged line-up for this weekend’s fixture.
Connor McAleny has made an strong start for Harry Kewell’s side since joining from Fleetwood Town this summer and is expected to partner Dearnley as they try to break through a Vale defence that until Tuesday, had the best defensive record in the fourth tier.
Predicted Oldham Line-Up: Lawlor, Ntambwe, Piergianni, Jameson, Hamer; Garrity, Barnett, McCalmont, Grant; McAleny, Dearnley.
Last time out
Port Vale 0-0 Oldham Athletic 26 October 2019
In an uninspiring encounter last season, Port Vale were able to maintain their unbeaten record at home in a 0-0 draw at Vale Park.
The Valiants were in control for large portions of the game, however Latics keeper Zeus de la Paz was equal to the Vale efforts, keeping the attackers at bay and gaining a valuable point for Oldham.
Vale boss John Askey believes that his side have enough quality in their ranks to challenge at the higher end of the table this season but is aware the pressure is on his side to deliver.
Speaking to Stoke-On-Trent Live, Askey said: “That was always going to happen, because if you are improving then expectations go up. We are still realistic. We know where we are. But there is no reason why we can’t be competing at the top of the table.
“There is no game we have played in where you think we have been outplayed. “We just need to stamp our authority on the game a little bit more and then I think we will start getting the results.”
Oldham assistant manager Alan Maybury meanwhile believes that the mood in the Oldham camp is a positive one after two important results in the past week.
Maybury said: “We probably haven’t got going as quickly as we wanted this season with some good results but after the last two games, after taking a step back, we’ve put in some good performances.
“We’ve had a win and a draw back-to-back and even though it’s not two wins it’s a positive step forward.
“I think if we can do what we’re good at, we can get a good result on Saturday.”