After two hard-fought and important three-pointers at headquarters, the latest one against Cheltenham last weekend, the Stags are on the road now. And the destination now is Vale Park, home of League Two strugglers Port Vale, who took a very important point due to a goal-less draw at Notts County last Saturday.
And goal-scoring has been a serious problem for the Valiants this season. If Tom Pope does not score, no other player does, as Pope has hit almost a third of Vale’s 28 goals so far. Last weekend, the Stags did not same the same problem without the suspended Walker. Other players stepped up and took the scoring responsibility against Cheltenham.
Not only the scoring, but also the home form has become a serious problem for the Valiants. No home victory since late October 2018, but ten defeats at headquarters, more than any other side bar fellow strugglers Morecambe, also with ten home reverses. The barren Vale spell also signalled the end of Port Vale management by Neil Aspin, who recently resigned and now succeeded by John Askey, recently at Macclesfield and Shrewsbury.
And last season’s corresponding fixture was the first for fifteen years and a few weeks, ending up in a frustrating 1-1 draw after a very late Port Vale equalizer, which in the end definitely secured Vale’s FL status.
In last season’s fixture at Vale Park about a year ago, the Stags routed the Valiants to a 4-0 scoreline, being the third of three consecutive League Two victories. This was also the first time in fifteen years the Stags had travelled to Vale Park for a league fixture. The previous time out, on November 30, 2002, at current League One level, and the 2-4 defeat despite taking the lead inside 30 second proved to be the end for Stuart Watkiss as Stags boss.
Due to the midway geographical position of the Stags and Port Vale, the sides played each other in both sections of the old third division up to the 1957-58 campaign. To prove the point in the stats shown below, the teams first met in the old div 3 (N) in the 1936-37 season.Two seasons later, they played each other in the southern section which they also did in the first full league season after the 2nd World War and in that season, Port Vale notched their biggest of total nine wins at Mansfield to a 3-0 scoreline on September 14, 1946. And in the 1952-53 and 1953-54 seasons respectively, the sides faced each other again, but in the northern section. More recently, the teams were promoted together from the old fourth division in 1985-86 and a Stags 2-1 home win just before Christmas was a start of a winning streak with eight wins out of nine putting the Stags firmly on the promotion trail, the Stags finishing third and Vale fourth in the last season before the introdution of the current play-off system. Both teams have also featured players who when playing in Sweden played for the same Swedish club, IFK Munkfors, but not at the same time. Martin Foyle (later Aldershot, Oxford, Port Vale and also later Port Vale manager) in 1982, Ian Juryeff (who scored four times for Stags in a 7-1-mauling of Halifax in 1984 featured in the vintage Stags section) in 1983. The first meeting between the teams produced a 7-1 win, the Stags biggest one of all time between the sides, on March 27, 1937, to avenge a 5-1 defeat at Port Vale (but not at Vale Park) on November 21, 1936.
And in the 1953-54 season, the Stags were one of only FOUR teams to score at Port Vale when they drew 1-1 on April 5, 1954. The first away win at Port Vale was recorded as a 4-1 on Easter Saturday 1977, which was the first out of eight home and away victories in the memorable promotion run in at the end of the 1976-77 championship season. And before last November, the Stags’ latest win at Port Vale happened on Easter Monday, 1989, at the end of that season in which the Stags beat all the teams who were promoted to the old 2nd division, the others being Wolves on April 1, 1989, to a tune of 3-1 at Field Mill, and Sheffield United 2-1 away on April 25, incidentally to the same scoreline as at Port Vale! Not only the 7-1 stuffing way back in 1937 explain the good Stags home goal difference against Vale.
Other maulings at home include the 5-0 with all goals in the first half on January 24, 1981, and the Kevin Kent show in the 4-0 win just before Christmas 1987, currently the latest Stags home victory against the 1987-88 FA Cup giant-killers. And no game between the sides at Mansfield has so far finished as a goal-less draw.
Earlier this season, the Stags won at home by the only goal of the game.
Port Vale have in the past been FA Cup giant-killers. Semi-finalists in 1953-54, beating Tottenham 2-1 at home in front of many Swedish TV viewers in the fourth round on January 30, 1988, to name just a few. But Vale themselves were also victims of one. In 2007-08, Chasetown became the lowest-ever ranked club to reach the third round, by beating Port Vale 1-0 in the final minute of normal time during a fixture in which Port Vale missed two penalties. One of the Chasetown players, Kyle Perry, was later to be one of quite a few players appearing for both sides (31 games, no goals for Port Vale and 30 games, 9 goals for the Stags). Recently, Perry played for then National League North side Worcester City, themselves FA Cup giant killers by beating Liverpool 2-1 in 1959 and more recently, Coventry away in the first round a few seasons ago. Latest known club address for Perry is Stafford Rangers.
And following the Tottenham FA Cup KO, Vale had their best FL spell in post-war history. Between 1989-90 and 1999-2000, Vale played nine seasons at current Championship level, managed for almost fifteen years by John Rudge. He oversaw the Vale promotion from Division Four together with the Stags under Ian Greaves in 1985-86 and both promotions to the current Championship as well as the 1987-88 FA Cup run. When Rudge left, Billy Dearden was Vale boss for a few days in January 1999.
Last season, Vale not for the first time endured problems following relegation from the third tier. On three previous occasions following relegation, in 1964-65, 1977-78 and 2007-08 respectively, Vale have finished well inside the bottom half, and their points tally of 48 in 2008-09 had in a few other League Two seasons, including the Stags’ FL comeback one a few years ago, been enough for dropping out of the FL altogether (Barnet on 51 in 2013 and Bristol Rovers on 50 in 2014 to name but two). Following all the above-mentioned relegations, it took Vale five seasons to return to the third tier. On current form, they could be candidates to drop out of the FL on the field for the first time ever. Vale, who in fact were one of the founder members of the FL second level as far back as in 1891-92, resigned from the second level in 1907 and returned to the FL second level by taking over the fixtures from Leeds City a century ago during the 1919-20 second level campaign.
Quite a few players have appeared for both sides. One of the most recent ones is Dimitar Evtimov, who scored a Stagsnet 10 rating in a memorable game at AFC Wimbledon four years ago. He played for Vale against Swindon on an emergency loan a few weeks before the clash at Vale Park last campaign. Also the 2013 Spireite killer, Calvin Andrew, has played for Vale. Also Tyler Walker played for Vale recently, a handful of games but was unable to prevent relegation two seasons ago.
Played for both sides: Adnan Ahmed, Calvin Andrew, Colin Askey, Will Atkinson, Thomas Baxter, Gary Brazil, Louis Briscoe, Darrell Clarke, Lee Collins, Wayne Corden, Colin Daniel, Craig Davies, Syd Dickinson, Dimitar Evtimov, Gary Ford, Exodus Geohaghon, Kenneth Griffiths, Ray Harford, Michael Hopkinson, Kyle Howkins, Arthur Jepson, Henry Jones, Kevin Kent, Adrian Littlejohn, Neil Mackenzie, John McCombe, Johnny Miller, Ricky Miller, Ernie Moss, Harry Oscroft, Krystian Pearce, Kyle Perry, George Pilkington, Kevin Pilkington, Nicky Platnauer, Gary Pollard, Andy Porter, George Poyser, Jazz Rattray, Gary Roberts, John Rowland, Jake Speight, Freddie Steele, Richard Sutton, Allen Tankard, Robert Taylor, Arjan van Heusden, Tyler Walker.
Managed both sides: Freddie Steele (managed the Stags when they reached the 5th round in the FA Cup 1950-51 and Port Vale when they reached the semi-finals three seasons later, then another spell at Port Vale in the early 60’s), Billy Dearden (for four days following the resignation of long-serving John Rudge in January 1999).
Billy Frith has also managed Port Vale, and did so in the 1945-46 season in which no FL games were played.
Home stats: P 24, W 11, D 4, L 9, GF 42, GA 27
Away stats: P 23, W 4, D 8, L 11, GF 26, GA 43
Season Home Date Away Date
1936-37 7-1 1937-03-27 1-5 1936-11-21 Div 3 (N)
1938-39 2-0 1939-01-28 0-3 1938-09-24 Div 3 (S)
1946-47 0-3 1946-09-14 1-4 1947-01-18 Div 3 (S)
1952-53 1-0 1953-03-28 1-1 1952-11-08 Div 3 (N)
1953-54 1-2 1953-08-19 1-1 1954-04-05 Div 3 (N)
1959-60 6-3 1960-04-25 1-4 1959-10-12 Div 3 (old)
1963-64 1-1 1963-09-09 0-1 1963-08-26 Div 3 (old)
1964-65 2-2 1964-09-28 2-2 1964-10-05 Div 3 (old)
1970-71 2-0 1970-09-28 0-2 1971-01-09 Div 3 (old)
1971-72 0-1 1971-11-13 0-1 1972-03-04 Div 3 (old)
1975-76 3-1 1976-01-03 2-2 1976-04-20 Div 3 (old)
1976-77 2-1 1976-12-28 4-1 1977-04-09 Div 3 (old)
1980-81 5-0 1981-01-24 0-0 1980-08-30 Div 4 (old)
1981-82 1-3 1982-02-06 0-0 1981-09-12 Div 4 (old)
1982-83 0-2 1982-09-11 1-4 1983-01-29 Div 4 (old)
1984-85 1-1 1985-03-13 1-0 1984-08-25 Div 4 (old)
1985-86 2-1 1985-12-22 0-0 1985-08-24 Div 4 (old)
1986-87 0-1 1987-01-01 2-3 1987-04-18 Div 3 (old)
1987-88 4-0 1987-12-20 1-1 1988-05-07 Div 3 (old)
1988-89 0-1 1988-12-26 2-1 1989-03-27 Div 3 (old)
1992-93 0-1 1993-04-10 0-3 1993-04-27 Div 2
2002-03 0-1 2003-04-05 2-4 2002-11-30 Div 2
2017-18 1-1 2018-04-21 4-0 2017-11-21 League Two
2018-19 1-0 2018-11-17 (at Mansfield) League Two
1985-86 1-1 1985-11-16 1st round at Field Mill
1985-86 0-1 1985-11-18 1st round replay at Vale Park
2016-17 1-0 2016-10-04 Group stage at Vale Park
Come on Mansfield!