Notts County will look to end their three-match winless run on Saturday, against a Port Vale who are currently on a three-match unbeaten run.
Despite losing their last three matches, Notts have thrown away leads in two of them, and will be buoyed by the fact that in their last away game, a 2-1 loss at MK Dons, they produced arguably their best performance so far this season.
But it’s results that have been bypassing the Magpies so far this season, and they’ll be looking to change that at Vale Park on Saturday.
Vale are on a run of four unbeaten in all competitions, and they have not conceded a single goal in any of those matches, since losing 6-2 at home to Lincoln City in mid-October.
Since then, the Valiants have picked up two 1-0 wins, away at Oldham, and at home to Bury, and a 0-0 draw at Stevenage, alongside a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough’s Under 23s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Tom Pope scored both goals in the 1-0 League wins, and has scored six in all competitions this season, making him comfortably Vale’s top scorer, the next best is Luke Hannant and Ben Whitfield with two.
Notts have scored more goals than Vale this season, 18 to 15, but have conceded nearly double: 34 vs 19, so despite Port Vale’s decent recent defensive record, it is likely that both teams will score on Saturday.
That being said, recent games between the two sides would suggest otherwise. The last three meetings, dating back to 2015, have all been decided by the only goal, the last two resulting in 1-0 wins for County.
There also hasn’t been a draw between these two sides since 1995, 19 meetings ago, when the game finished 1-1 in the old Division One on the last day of the 1994/95 season.
A look through the Vale ranks doesn’t show too many names that will mean much to Notts fans: Cristian Montano had an exciting loan spell for the Magpies back in 2011, but he has seen little game time so far this season due to a reoccurring knee injury. Elsewhere, Leon Legge, Michael Tonge and Tom Pope all add valuable experience to Neil Aspin’s team.
Notts will likely name an unchanged starting eleven to the one that lost to Swindon on Saturday. The 4-2-3-1 formation that Harry Kewell has started deploying is the most effective seen so far this season and has been the formation used when Notts have picked up all of their three wins to date.
And Notts will definitely be looking for another win on Saturday; we’re now a third of the way through the season and the Magpies can’t allow the gap between themselves and the play-off positions, which currently stands at 15 points, to get any greater otherwise they could find themselves in a relegation battle, rather than a promotion push, come May.
Picture Credit: Notts County