Saving Vale from Fail – Part 2

Welcome back. Which idiot decided on this title? Anyway, part 1 is here – the gist is, I took over Port Vale with 12 games of the season to go and they were miles from safety. 13 points to be exact. But now, that mile is more like 1,000 metres. It’s still a long way, basically. But with 6 games to go, we just need to make up 7 points on Tranmere. The debt also continues to spiral, but that is not my concern…

It’s Stockport at home next, who are thankfully not managed by Matt Porter so they sit 14th. Now seems like a good time to remind you of my team, which is missing Tommy Widdrington through injury but is otherwise, sadly, full strength.

vs stockport

It’s a good game to get an early goal in, especially as we spend the next 88 missing numerous chances. I’ve never seen a team get as many goals disallowed as we do either, Foyle has a toe poke ruled out for offside. In one game we had a goal disallowed because their defender sliced it onto the bar and Foyle tapped it in. How can that be offside? Anyway, 3 precious points and we sit waiting for Tranmere’s score to tick through. Why did I load three countries?


They’ve lost 2-0 at Swindon. Good. Crewe, in 22nd, have been hammered 4-1 at home to Man City. This is a good weekend for us.

5 to go

These are the Easter weekend fixtures so we actually play again 2 days later. We’ve lost Jeffers to a thigh injury but Widdrington is back to sit in front of the centre halves. It’s a trip to Portsmouth, who are 16th and beatable. Tranmere will go to Man City a day later, though I notice Aldridge as player-manager rates himself as a star player but also has himself on the transfer list. I can’t explain some things.


Anyway, Portsmouth. It’s a dull game with nothing happening until Portsmouth score. From a corner. Foyle equalises against the run of play on half time and I’ll take a point.

Alex Notman won’t. He’s on hand to tap in from Rankin’s spilled shot and we’ll take all three points back from the south coast. It’s a great bus ride home.

pompey 1-2

Crewe are humped 4-0 at Huddersfield. The day is soured though as Notman pulls a hamstring moonwalking down the bus. That’s a problem.

John Aldridge grabs a point for Tranmere at Man City. City are already promoted which doesn’t help. It means Rovers have a 1 point advantage over us with 4 games to go.

Sunderland are our next visitors. They have a very strong squad and usually go up, but find themselves 4th. They’ve added Sasa Ciric to their lineup and he’s a very useful striker. Rankin gives us the lead but Ciric pegs us back. A point is ok. Tranmere have lost at home to Huddersfield, who are fast becoming my 2nd favourite team.

mackems 1-1

Crewe throw a curveball into the mix by beating 9th placed West Brom 4-1. That pulls them back into contention, though Bradford are relegated. The equation is clear.

3 games to go

Bury away is a game we need to win. They are basically safe, barring an unprecedented series of results, but they are nearly as bad defensively as us. Jeffers returns to the bench with Frank continuing in the place of Notman.

We’re awful. We’re behind and after 63 minutes, I have to introduce a 16 year old in the hope he saves the day.

He does.

bury 1-2

Within seconds of his arrival he equalises and then rams in a winner. More likes Francis Jeff-Hurst. Am I right? (Man on the Post, if you read this, sorry I stole your joke).

Aldridge nicks a point for Tranmere whilst Crewe draw at Stoke. We’re out of the bottom 3!

2 games to go

Notman’s back but Snijders, one of the centre halves, is banned for a game. Widdrington’s season is over due to injury, but I can’t really complain when you see the state of Crewe’s injury situation.


Tony Naylor wants a move. He’s unhappy at being left out of the side, but as he played 19 games and scored 2 goals at an average of 6.05, he’s lucky he hasn’t been put down. Goodbye Tony.

The board are satisfied. Is that it? I mean yes, the debt is spiralling but I didn’t shell out £1.8m on Tommy Widdrington, did I?

Our final home game of the season is against Charlton. They are 18th. We should win. We are effectively at match point. A win here coupled with results elsewhere could secure it for us.

0-2 charlton

We’re awful. Call it pressure. Nerves. Lack of talent. We can barely muster a shot in target and not even Jeffers can save us. Salvation comes in the form of the other results. Home defeats for Tranmere and Crewe leave us in the driving seat.

table 1 to go

Crewe have to go to terrible Bradford. Tranmere face Wolves who are fighting for a playoff place. We’re at Sheff Utd, who are 19th.

Ainsworth is injured but Snijders is back. The terrible right wing back I inherited is also injured, so a young lad called Matthew Carragher is in. Sheff Utd have Paul McGrath and Dean Saunders, which is problematic enough in 1998 but I’m pleased it isn’t 1994.

I’m confident a point will do it. Surely Tranmere won’t win at Molineux. I decide to view the Crewe game. Bradford may as well not turn up, like the fans. 5,000 are dotted around Valley Parade to watch Gary Walsh have a tab whilst Crewe run riot. They win 4-1. I need at least a point.

It’s not pretty. Sheff Utd are far the better team but we equalise straight away after going behind. It’s 3-1 at half time though, and it’s a borderline disaster. Aspin heads on in on 52 and there’s loads of time to get another goal. Rankin obliges. There’s 24 minutes to go and I really don’t know whether to stick or twist. A Tranmere win would scupper us. We’ll have to wait and see.

3-3 sheff utd




final table

Bloody. Hell. That was hard work. Every match was a struggle, but we’ve survived by the skin of our teeth. What days.

I’m off for a lie down but I’ll be back Sunday with Aberdeen and the last update of season 4. Until then, have a go at the survival challenge and tweet me your results. It’s exhausting.




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