Bradford City vs Port Vale preview
@Valley Parade on Saturday 27 September, 2014
By Phil Abbott
Question: What do uttering the name of ‘The Scottish play’, a power cut and lowly visitors to Valley Parade all have in common? Answer: They are all perceived to be able to cast a dark shadow on proceedings. Let me explain.
Firstly, for lovers of Shakespeare, the mere mention of ‘Macbeth’ is enough to send bad luck upon those who dare to whisper it in a theatre. It is a word that must not be uttered! Indeed, the witches’ spells played out in the theatre are ‘feared’ to become real under such circumstances. Secondly, the lack of light in a dark room can render even the most simple tasks seemingly impossible. And finally, in the case of Valley Parade, there is an increasing gloom over the plausibility that even the worst teams in the league might be the favourites to scoop the league points when they come up against City.
The Valley Parade conundrum is becoming less of an unspoken rule and more established on the tongues of pessimistic City fans – perhaps unfairly and prematurely – but certainly more noticeably in recent days.
So what’s the problem? There shouldn’t be any question of an issue in any of the impending meetings of Bradford City and three of the bottom six teams in the league in our forthcoming games. After all, we have what it takes to scoop all nine points don’t we? We are sitting well in 6th place with a terrific away record, but a straw poll of City fans may well lead us to see just how embedded City’s longer term failures against lower placed opposition are in their minds. And many may not be so confident of securing a trio of victories.
When you add to the pot an unenviable record of three home defeats in four attempts this season, suddenly it becomes clearer why the outcomes of our forthcoming games are potentially so disappointing. Well my take on our most recent home defeats is simple; Peterborough appear to be the best team in the league, Yeovil have made impressive strides as the season has progressed and Swindon are sat just above us in a play off spot.
Our home form, whilst clearly disappointing, is not as disastrous or inexplicable as some would make out. But, in recent years, especially during our time in the doldrums of League Two, we’ve suffered our fair share of disappointing results and performances against ‘inferior’ opposition at home.
With this in mind, additional problems for City, alongside a still lengthy list of absentees this Saturday, is that they welcome an injured beast in Port Vale. The manager-less, underwhelming Valiants have so far offered little resistance this season and in normal circumstances, Bantams fans would be well within their rights to expect their team to dispatch Vale with relative ease.
But a wounded beast is dangerous, especially if you show it no respect. Key to City’s approach on Saturday is to heed this warning. No game in League One should be perceived as an easy game before kick off and this fixture is undoubtedly included in this principle.
And of Port Vale – three points from a possible 21 recently – fighting for caretaker manager Robert Page’s long term appointment? What does a wounded beast do to overcome its attacker? It digs deep to find new, unbridled energy. It goes for the jugular – clinical and decisive. It treats its next attack as its last. It only succumbs when all is lost.
Port Vale are not quite fighting for their lives, but they have much to prove to themselves and their unhappy fans. But in many respects, City themselves head back to Valley Parade as an injured beast too. The lack of home points must be addressed in double quick time if City are to lodge a meaningful assault on the play offs come April time. This makes Saturday’s game more intriguing.
Even without a host of squad regulars, City will likely be facing Port Vale with a larger complement of players than in previous weeks. With the return of Alan Sheehan from suspension and the possible inclusion of Stephen Darby and Matty Dolan, the City team on paper is well placed to secure maximum dividends. I think City have what it takes and have shown signs of patient, possession football on their three trips away in the last week. As long as they can avoid reverting to the long-ball game on Saturday, City fans should be able to exorcise some of those demons of games gone by.
And if the parallel with Shakespeare’s witches is manifested on the Valley Parade turf come Saturday, let’s hope the concoction is a City spell on The Valiants.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble;
Claret and Amber, three points to take;
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye for goal, and foot of gold;
Heart of steal, decisions bold;
Whistling shot of Knott that stings;
Corner kick that Pickford clings;—
For a charm of powerful trouble;
Beat the Vale, set up the double.
(Prediction: Bradford City 2 Port Vale 1)
If you like what Width of a Post do, please vote for us in the Football Blogging Awards.