Port Vale to strike early against Shortwood in televised FA Cup clash
Calor League Division One South and West side Shortwood United’s FA Cup journey has put the Gloucestershire minnows in the national spotlight, but League One Port Vale should put a stop to the Wood’s dream run at tiny Meadowbank.
All 1,300 tickets made available for this FA Cup first-round tie at the ground – which usually attracts around a tenth of that number of supporters – have been snapped up ahead of Shortwood’s clash with Mickey Adams’ Vale.
The hosts moved mountains to overcome Skrill Premier side Aldershot 2-1 in the last qualifying round, but Adams’ men will be a much tougher prospect in Nailsworth.
Port Vale to be winning at half-time and full-time @ 4/6
After finishing 2012/13 in League Two’s last automatic promotion place, Robbie Williams’ favourite team are currently just inside the top half in League One, with 20 points from their first 15 games.
Only three of Port Vale’s seven league losses so far this term have been by more than one goal and although they lost their last away game 5-2 against Swindon, they also thumped Crawley 3-0 on the road recently.
Adams’ men have won three of their last six away games in the division and have got on the scoresheet in the first half in three of those matches.
Against a Shortwood side that have gained just nine points from their first nine league games this season in the lower reaches of the non-league pyramid, the gulf in class will be too great and the Vale should have this wrapped up by the break.
Tom Pope to score the first goal @ 3/1
Port Vale have a striker within their ranks who was once rated as one of the sharpest hitmen in England, but former £5m forward Lee Hughes has not started any of his team’s last three League One games and the 37-year-old will probably be kept as an option from the bench.
Adams is more likely to turn to Pope, who was the top scorer in League Two last season with a cracking tally of 31 strikes in 46 games.
He has continued scoring for fun this term, with five League One goals so far and a brace in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Bury.
Pope has rattled the onion bag in each of his side’s last two matches and is a better bet to grab the opener here than Hughes or fellow forward Ben Williamson, who has only found the net once in 15 appearances in 2013/14.
Doug Loft to score at anytime @ 7/2
Former Brighton midfielder Loft – who can also play at left wing-back – has scored four goals in League One for the Vale already this season, which is as many as he has ever managed in a single league campaign before now.
He is the Potteries’ club’s second-highest goal-getter in all competitions this term and must be worth a flutter at a decent price to get on the scoresheet here.