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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big Match Preview - Port Vale vs. Bury

Port Vale vs. Bury
Saturday March 26, 13:00, Vale Park

Two sides with eyes on promotion from the basement division to League One meet on Saturday lunchtime in Staffordshire as Port Vale host Bury.

It pits the visitors - who currently sit in second - against a Valiants team who, despite recently slipping out of League Two's top seven, lie just five points behind.

That loss of form saw the departure of Jim Gannon from his post as manager after a tumultuous 14-game spell at the helm. Vale won four, drew four, and lost six under the Irishman, who took over from Micky Adams.

It wasn't just on the pitch where things were tough for Gannon, as he displayed a tempestuous attitude alongside his desire to change the team's formation and playing style.

He also struggled to forge a working relationship with the club's coaching staff, including being part of an embarrassing episode where he left the team coach en route to a match at Aldershot last month.

Youth Team coach Mark Grew is now in temporary charge and began his reign with a 1-1 home draw against Hereford, a result which left the Potteries club 9th.

Only a stoppage time equaliser prevented a second successive defeat at Vale Park, although they do still boast one of the division's tightest home defences with just 16 goals conceded.

In strikers Marc and Justin Richards, too, Vale have two forwards in double figures this term and they are capable of giving any League Two defence a problematic afternoon.

Alan Knill and Bury are in a strong position to win promotion from League Two

Problems of their own are exactly what they will face from Bury though, who make the trip to the West Midlands with the best away record in League Two.

The Shakers have won ten and drawn four of their 19 games on the road this term, scoring 37 goals along the way.

Indeed, after successive home defeats to Torquay and Cheltenham, boss Alan Knill may well be relieved for his side to be back on their travels, where they will be seeking to keep a fourth straight clean sheet.

Knill will also be keen, after missing out on automatic promotion in 2009 on goal difference before losing in the play offs, to ensure the Lancashire side maintain the top three position they currently hold.

The Gigg Lane outfit sit four points clear of the play off positions going into the final nine games - but then they had been sitting second in 2009 with just four games remaining.

Without a doubt, the stand out man for the Shakers has been striker Ryan Lowe who recently scored in ten successive matches and is the division's top scorer having registered 23 goals.

This is a match-up between two sides who faced one another on the opening day of the campaign.

On that occasion it went the way of Vale. However, I can see Bury exactly some long awaited revenge this weekend to continue their great away record.

Nobes' Prediction: Port Vale 0 Bury 1

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