"O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound"
This competition is widely considered as meaningless, in the grand scheme of things, and here we have a fixture that elevates the appreciation of meaningless to a whole new level. This is the last game in the group stage, the other two clubs (Burton Albion and Middlesbrough U-21) having played their 3 games - and the joint group leaders are ourselves and Port Vale. So it doesn’t matter what the result of this game is in terms of qualification - we are both through anyway. The only difference is that whoever finishes top of the group will be drawn at home to a runner-up in another group.
Current form is also meaningless, as no doubt both managers will take this opportunity for possible drastic tinkering with team selection. Vale were involved in an F.A. Cup match only yesterday (Sunday) against Sunderland, veteran captain Tom Pope scoring in a 1-2 defeat, so they may well have more tired legs than Dean Keates’ squad.
So … what can we expect from this match? The answer has to be a lemon - it’s just as impossible to predict the tactics and selection as it is to forecast the score. Anyone’s guess will be better than mine!! There are two things that are much more concerning … (1) The draw for the 2nd round of the F.A. Cup (the real cup competition) which is broadcast live tonight at 7pm on BBC2, and (2) The hope that all squad members will still be match fit for the important game at Fleetwood on Saturday.
A final mention on kick-off times … note that this game against Port Vale is scheduled for 7pm, and the away league One game at Fleetwood is a 12 noon start.