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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Big Match Preview

Port Vale vs. Torquay United
Saturday August 28, 15:00, Vale Park

It's still very early days, but two of the frontrunners in the embryonic League Two standings meet in the Potteries this weekend.

Both Port Vale and Torquay have made promising starts to the new campaign, with this game pitting 4th against 1st. It also gives the away side the chance to write their names into the footballing history books.

Torquay have kept clean sheets in their last 10 league games - stretching back to April last season. An 11th at Vale Park would see them match Millwall's record dating back to the 1925/6 campaign.

That defensive solidity has been at the heart of Paul Buckle's side's impressive beginning to the season. As well as not giving anything away, the Gulls have taken maximum spoils from their first three games.

A crushing 3-0 victory over Northampton on the opening day was followed by a 2-0 win at Lincoln. Then, last weekend, pre-season favourites Bradford were swept aside by the same scoreline at Plainmoor.

The Devon side travel to the West Midlands brimming with confidence therefore, as they look to maintain their excellent early form.

Central to their rock solid backline has been the influence of experienced centre half Guy Branston. After making his loan move from Burton permanent in the summer, he has once again helped United look resolute at the back.

Alongside Mark Ellis, Chris Robertson, and Kevin Nicholson, and with the very able Scott Bevan in goal behind them, Buckle will be confident he has the unit to frustrate their hosts.

With strikers Elliott Benyon and Chris Zebroski both in goalscoring form, too, the Gulls will hope to cause a threat of their own down the other end of the pitch.

Can Micky Adams and Port Vale end Torquay's clean sheet run?

In their way stand Micky Adam's Vale side - looking to bounce back from last night's 6-0 thumping against Fulham in the League Cup.

Despite that heavy loss, they had progressed through to the tie at Craven Cottage after a shock win at Championship leaders QPR - a sign of their credentials.

In the league, the Valiants remain unbeaten having taken seven points from nine. That includes two away wins from two at Bury and then last weekend's 3-1 success at Southend.

Their one home match so far saw a 1-1 draw with Chesterfield, and the former Leicester boss will be looking to secure their first triumph at Vale Park - where they struggled to win at times last term.

Up front, Vale boast the Richards double-act with strikers Justin and Marc scoring three and two goals respectively to date.

The Staffordshire outfit have also looked solid at the back, with just two goals conceded in their three league games.

Goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson, a summer signing from Barrow, is protected by defenders John McCombe, Gareth Owen, and Lee Collins - who grabbed Vale's winning goal on the opening day.

It promises to be a tight encounter between two well organised sides who look to build from the back. It's difficult, therefore, to see too many goals.

Vale are a difficult team to beat, although they may well suffer for their midweek cup excursions. The first goal will be vital, and if Torquay get it they can hold on to make history.

Nobes' Prediction: Port Vale 0 Torquay United 1

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