Port Vale Preview

August gives way to September, there’s a chill in the air, proper football weather will be back sooner rather than later as the lure of holidays, beer gardens and barbecue becomes less of a pull for the casual fan, forcing them kicking and screaming back into the warm bosom of their football family. Actually the Anonymous Don has probably had a little too much of the summer excess… Mrs AD has made me go on a low carb diet throughout September in order to be fit and ready when the Minithon comes around again, hopefully I’ll be able to improve on last years cracking time of two days, seven hours and forty-four minutes…

We’ll probably all be better off shedding a few pounds judging by how packed the Meadow was for the Hereford game, and it’s only going to get worse for Port Vale, with home tickets selling out fast. Personally I consider being rammed together with a bunch of strangers in the Tempest as the sign of a club who have progressed beyond where any of us could have hoped to have been nine years on. But would you rather be plodding in the BSS trying to raise funds to build up a stadium we probably don’t have a long-term future in, or reach for the stars and accept the consequences?

What that shouldn’t mean is we use our limited facilities as an excuse for organisational chaos, and by this I mean the decision to make the game all ticket for Port Vale’s travelling support with only one working days notice. I feel pretty gutted our club has put out visiting supporters – we can’t get a reputation for being the Fans Club that fucks other club’s fans over. Fair enough, it was a police decision, and probably the right one considering a close to capacity attendance is likely… but why wait until two days before the game? We knew a large attendance was likely two weeks ago (at least the publicity on the O/S suggested as much…), so why not automatically make games all ticket for visiting fans? Surely its easier to switch an all ticket game to pay on the door than vice versa?

To be fair to the club, they are learning and listening… the decision to add extra toilets at the Tempest End shows this. We can forgive the club for the ticket oversight on this occasion, not used to regularly dealing with large crowds, as long as there isn’t a repeat performance next time a game that threatens the capacity comes along. We can forgive our squad and management team for the Macclesfield defeat – as long as we don’t see a similar scoreline any time in the near future.

As for last weeks ‘performance’, well it’s time to look forward, no point crying over spilt milk and other such clichés. We probably wouldn’t have asked for Port Vale if we had the chance to hand-pick our opponents seven days later, but that’s the fixture list for you. The general consensus is Port Vale should be there or there abouts this season, so we’ll have to earn our points tomorrow afternoon.

Nice to see the visiting manager throwing a few nice words our way, I always regarded Micky Adams as a decent football man (cue someone digging out comments he made praising the franchise when he last managed against them…), but working under the assumption ‘your enemy’s enemy is your friend’ he did enough to earn a warm welcome from most Dons fans anyway thanks to his opening day post match comments relating to Steve Evans. Vale have themselves stuttered of late after a decent start to the season, a couple of draws and a couple of wins before slipping at home to Southend last week, and crashing out of the JPT on pens after finishing level with Tranmere in the week.

As for the Dons, there’s been a lot of talk of ‘working hard on the training ground’ and ‘having points to prove’ thrown about by Dons players in the press this week – just to remind you lads, this is what you’re supposed to be paid to do anyway, but we understand the sentiment. Picking out a Dons lineup could be pretty tricky under the circumstances – on one hand TB doesn’t normally like to make too many unforced changes, on the other the battering we received last week might mean he has little choice, even if defensive options are thin on the ground thanks to those sitting in the treatment room.

Midfield is the key area Brown had options for change, and is perhaps the most important considering the amount of goals we’ve shed thanks to lapses in this area of the field. As I mentioned in the week, I hope TB isn’t afraid to shuffle his pack slightly, he might start by playing people in the position they favour… Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen Max Porter come out in the press declaring he’s a box to box midfielder, and Toks admitting he’d prefer a deeper passing role. So the immediate answer might be to swap them over and see what effect it has.

I think the problem with that holding role is the assumption that it’s a deeper lying role, we need to play someone who can put in a challenge. Maybe it’s simplistic and naive, but it almost seems like we invite pressure on ourselves sometimes… why stick a ball winner in front of the back four when they could be doing much the same job twenty yards up the pitch?

We welcome Kieran Djilali to the squad, giving Brown some extra options in terms of width. With Brendan Kiernan not ready for regular first team action and Ryan Jackson seemingly heading backwards, it’s placed a lot of burden on Christian Jolley to come on and change games… Djilali’s appearance for the development squad yesterday suggests he’ll probably find himself on the bench tomorrow, and the starting lineup for that game has naturally affected my predicted starting line up…

Brown

Hatton

Gwillim

Johnson

Stuart

Yussuff

Porter

Moore S

Moore L

Midson

Ademeno

In other words Porter coming in for Minshull (this is just a hunch on my part, I may be well off the money…) and Ademeno back for Jolley. A difficult call for Brown, so much so I’d probably have more luck predicting who we’ll play in the JPT second round (draw tomorrow morning). So I’ll give that a go as well… I’m going for Southend at home…

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