Millwall’s undefeated away record remained in tact on Saturday, as they cruised to a 3-1 victory at bottom-placed Crewe Alexandra. An Aiden O’Brien hat-trick helped the Lions to the three points in a game that saw the away side only concede due to a lucky deflection. This Tuesday, the Lions head north once more to take on Port Vale in a re-arranged League One clash. Vale season-ticket holder, Paul Sloane-Bulger, takes up ‘The View From The Opposition’ ahead of Tuesday’s clash…
Name: Paul Sloane-Bulger
First Port Vale game: At home to Nottingham Forest (97/98 season) – lost 0-1.
Greatest moment following Port Vale: Two moments come very close. Winning the LDV Vans Trophy in Cardiff in April 2001, with a 2-1 win against Brentford was special as a twelve year old. A late winner from Steve Brooker helped us to win the competition for the second time. The 2012/13 season, which resulted in automatic promotion from League Two will always be special, though, as it was the first time I’d experienced promotion as a Vale fan. A 2-2 home draw with Northampton Town all but sealed our promotion, bar a freak swing of goal difference on the final day.
How have Port Vale begun the season?: Throughout the summer, a lot of fans were critical of our retained list and the fact Page had ended the season with 1 win in our final 11 games, but he strengthened the squad massively, especially in defence, which was our weakness last season. Our style of play has improved dramatically and we began with a 0-0 derby draw at Crewe, followed by a superb 1-0 win at home to Burnley in the Capital One Cup. This was followed by hard-fought draws at home to Gillingham and away at Swindon. We then hammered Doncaster 3-0 at home, in what most Vale fans reckoned was our best team performance since the 90s. We then took Premier League West Brom all the way to penalties, before bowing out valiantly. We suffered our first defeat of the season away at Bradford, thanks to a 94th minute winner, although it was undeserved, as both sides deserved a share of the spoils. Recently, we have advanced to the next round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 1-0 win over Carlisle. We we poor on the night, but we did what we had to do to win.
How do you see Millwall faring in their first season back in League One?: You shipped out a whole squads worth of players during the summer and barely recruited any new faces, so I’d expect a slow start and a struggle to start with. With a couple of new additions in the loan market and in the January transfer window, then providing they all gel, you could end the season strongly and end up just in the top half, similar to Barnsley last season. You will need to massively improve your home record though.
Who are Port Vale’s ‘ones to watch’ for our game?: Uche Ikpeazu will no doubt be a nuisance for your defence, as he’s a big unit who leads the line on his own up top. He’s got enormous strength and physical presence and has battered the majority of defenders he’s come up against so far, but just lacks a little in his finishing. Anthony Grant has been instrumental for us in the middle of the park, and he has been MOTM in the majority of our games so far with his ability to consistently break up play, play accurate passes and be that key figure protecting the back four.
Which Millwall players will you be wary of for our game?: Fred Onyedinma seems to be the one that stands out so far this season. He’s chipped in with a few goals and from reports, he seems to have been the only positive thing to take out of some games. Pace can be vital in this league and our full backs aren’t blessed with pace, so we’ll need to keep our eye on him. Steve Morison has returned to Millwall, and if he can rekindle his previous form, then he could be a handful for defences at this level, so our centre halves will need to be wary of his obvious ability.
How do you see the game going?: Millwall tend to play better away from home, so it could be a difficult game for us. We’re still unbeaten at home and have only conceded once and that was down to a free kick given inside the box for a pass back, so we are resolute at the back.
Score Prediction: Port Vale 2-1 Millwall.
Paul’s Team Prediction: Alnwick; Purkiss, Duffy, Inniss, Dickinson; Grant, Moore, Andoh, Foley; Dodds; Ikpeazu.
Vale Park is the venue for Port Vale v Millwall on Tuesday, September 15th. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.