Match Preview: Port Vale v Northampton Town

Port Vale v Northampton Town

After a two week international break, real football is back and the Cobblers head to Port Vale looking to solidify and build on a solid start to like in League One. Since our return, we’ve picked up seven points from six games and played some encouraging football for the most part. Jon Brady will be hoping that the break will have given some of the walking wounded some extra time to recover as we head to Burslem.

Vale are always a tough opponent and this season will be no different. They’ve recovered from a nightmare opening day defeat to really make their mark and come into the game absolutely flying full of confidence.
This should be a real marker as to where we’re at as we bed into the season.

The Opposition

Since the Cobblers pipped Port Vale to a place in the League Two playoffs back in 2020 thanks to the points per game system introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Valiants have rebuilt having spent the following season treading water. An emotional playoff victory in 2022 saw them beat Mansfield Town at Wembley to finally ascend to League One against the backdrop of a devastating time for then manager Darrell Clarke. Andy Crosby had come in and led the team in unfathomable circumstances to promotion before taking a back seat with Clarke returning to work in May following promotion.
Their first season back in League One started well but a major blip in mid-season saw them drop from ninth place to on the verge of relegation. Clarke was then sacked – a difficult decision for owner Carol Shanahan – as the club acted in what they believed to be the best interest of their manager. Crosby stepped back in and is now full time boss as they look to avoid getting dragged into any similar relegation issues this time out.
A 7-0 defeat at Barnsley on the opening day wasn’t the start that Crosby had dreamt of but, bizarrely, Vale came out of it having given an encouraging account of themselves. Stats back it up with Crosby’s side having more shots and more corners than the Tykes and with possession split down the middle. It was one of those days where everything just collapsed but credit must go to all involved for the way they’ve set about their recovery.
A 1-0 home win over Reading was just the tonic and a 0-0 draw at Blackpool was another major stop on the defensive road to recovery. Following those results up with a 3-2 success at The Valley against Charlton Athletic was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, though, and two further wins (at home to Carlisle and away at Oxford) have put them right in the mix at the top end of the table.
Signing technically gifted footballers permanently and on loan has turned Vale into a different proposition altogether to the one that stayed up very late in the day last season. This is a club looking to really upset the favourites of the division this season and if they keep everyone fit and their superb loanees in tact past January you wouldn’t put it past them to become the surprise package of League One.

Last Time Out

The Cobblers were beaten by Oxford United in the EFL Trophy ten days ago while Port Vale were beating Crewe Alexandra in the same competition.

One To Watch

Oliver Arblaster signed on loan from Sheffield United this summer and much is already being said about the 19-year-old. Arblaster, a midfielder who is just as comfortable collecting the ball from his defenders as he is finishing and creating chances, has taken to League One football like a duck to water and is already starting to run games and win praise from all quarters. Turning professional in May 2018, Arblaster joined Bradford Park Avenue on loan in 2021 before making four appearances during The Blades’ promotion run last season. 

Team News

Port Vale are still without midfielder Tom Conlon who picked up a severe hamstring injury in pre-season while Dan Jones and Kofi Balmer could also be missing again.

The Cobblers could welcome back Lee Burge from injury with the keeper hoping to be fit in time for the trip to Vale Park. Ben Fox and Ryan Haynes are also back in training and have an outside chance of making the squad. Will Hondermarck picked up an injury before the recent game against Wycombe, though, and faces time on the sidelines alongside Ali Koiki, Danny Hylton and Tyler Magloire.

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Scott Oldham is in the middle on Saturday. Oldham’s last Cobblers game was our 3-0 home win over Colchester United in February 2022. Joe Simpson and Danny Jarvis are running the lines and Ross Joyce is fourth official.


This is going to be as tough a trip to Port Vale as there’s been for a while. They’re playing with style at the moment and it should be an excellent football match. I’m going for a draw that I’d be happy with. 1-1.


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