In what is a game in hand on many of the teams around the top half of the League Two table, Tranmere Rovers will be looking to take full advantage of a trip to Port Vale to re-establish themselves firmly in the race for the play-offs.
The trip to the Potteries to take on the Valiants comes on the back of a couple of positive results for Micky mellon’s side, victory over Stevenage at Prenton Park 10 days ago followed by a solid 0-0 draw at Cambridge United last weekend.
A win at Vale Park could see Rovers back to within three points of the top seven in Sky Bet League Two, depending on other results with three other matches taking place on the same night.
So, how likely is a victory on Tuesday evening?
Hosts Port Vale decided on a change of manager recently, appointing former Shrewsbury Town and Macclesfield Town boss John Askey to take the reins at Vale Park in the place of Neil Aspin.
You’d expect some sort of positive bounce in results with a managerial change, but Askey has resided over two fixtures in the Vale dugout, both ending in 1-0 defeats.
The latest of those defeats came on home turf last weekend when former Tranmere loanee Aaron Collins (pictured, left) netted a second half winner for Morecambe and give Vale their 15th league loss so far this campaign.
It appears that a combination of excellent goalkeeping from the Morecambe shot-stopper, and a penalty miss from striker Tom Pope denied Vale what would have been a worthy point, as you can see from the match highlights here.
That leaves the Valiants perilously positioned in 20th in the League Two standing, only four points above the drop zone. So, like Rovers at the other end, Askey’s side will be hoping for the three points to give them a little breathing space at the danger area of the league table.
You have to go back to March 2007 for Tranmere’s last victory at Vale Park, a 3-2 win courtesy of a late winner by Kevin Ellison.
Admittedly, the two clubs’ paths haven’t met as regularly as they should have in recent years, but the record at Vale Park isn’t the greatest. Most supporters fondly remember a 4-1 win on the opening day of the 2002-03 season, though, with Jason Koumas inspiring an impressive victory shortly before leaving for pastures new.
One player in the opposition ranks who will be familiar to Rovers supporters is Anthony Kay. The versatile ex-Rover joined Vale last summer and has made 25 appearances for the club so far this season, and is expected to line up against his former club.
In team news, Liam Ridehalgh missed the draw at Cambridge United with illness and there’s been no news as to whether he may be well enough for a return to action. Sid Nelson missed the game with a(nother) broken nose while Steve McNulty has an Achilles injury, so Tranmere are a little stretched in the backline department.