We turn our attentions to the weekend with a full and in-depth preview of Sunday's FA Cup Second Round tie at Port Vale.
Port Vale v Pools
Emirates FA Cup Second Round
Sunday 4th December 2016
Port Vale are 12th in League One after a mixed season so far under new boss Bruno Ribeiro, who arrived to succeed Rob Jones in the summer and become the club’s first-ever foreign manager.
A 2-1 victory over Fleetwood Town three weeks ago had lifted Vale in to the play-off places but they have picked up just two points from their three outings since and have dropped back in to mid-table.
The Valiants’ home form has been pretty strong so far and they’ve won six of their ten league games at Vale Park but victories on the road have been much harder to come by.
Hartlepool-born Michael Brown, who had a loan spell at The Vic from Manchester City in 1997, is currently Assistant Manager at Port Vale.
Vale reached the Second Round of the FA Cup after edging past Stevenage 1-0 thanks to Remi Streete’s first half goal.
Young front man Alex Jones is top scorer at Vale Park this season having enjoyed a good time playing for the club since joining on loan from Birmingham City at the start of the campaign.
The 22-year-old is back in action after a knee injury and has already hit the net nine times in the league this term despite often being played out wide on the right.
Vale have already revealed that they are hoping to tie up a permanent deal for Jones when the transfer window re-opens in the New Year.
Tuesday 12th August 2014
Port Vale 6 (Williamson 8,14, 18, Brown 62, Pope 74, 84)
Hartlepool United 2 (Franks 10, Austin pen 59)
Port Vale: Johnson, Dickinson, Robertson, McGivern, Veseli, Birchall (Jennings 65), Lines, O’Connor (Brown 46), Marshall, Williamson (Dodds 73), Pope.
Subs not used: Neal, Yates, Duffy, Lloyd.
Pools: Flinders, Duckworth, Bates, Collins, Austin, Brobbel, Miller, Woods (Harewood 60), Walker, Franks, James.
Subs not used: Barber, Richards, Holden, Hawkins, Compton, Smith.
Head To Head
This weekend’s game will be the 49th competitive meeting between the two clubs and both have 18 victories to their name, with the other 12 games ending in draws.
Vale ran out 6-2 winners when the sides last met during a League Cup tie at Vale Park at the start of the 2014/15 campaign, though Pools did do the double over them when the two last shared a division in 2007/08.
It’s only the second occasion that Pools have faced Vale in the FA Cup – and the last time didn’t go to plan back in November 1994 when The Valiants ran out 6-0 winners.
Darren Handley will be in charge of his second Pools game of the season when he is on the whistle for our FA Cup tie at Port Vale on Sunday.
In total, Handley has overseen seven Pools fixtures in the past with the most recent coming when he was the referee for our 0-0 draw with Mansfield Town in September, while he was also the referee for our 3-1 win at Barnet last season.
His most recent outing also came at The Hive when he oversaw Barnet’s 3-2 win over Notts County in League Two last weekend.
There’ll be full live online commentary on Pools PlayerHD from 2.50pm on Sunday so fans all over the world can keep in touch with the action as it unfolds.
Click here now for more information on joining Pools PlayerHD in time to listen to our live coverage.
Pools fans can buy their tickets in advance from The Northern Gas and Power Stadium up until 2pm on Friday though they will also be made available from the cash-only away ticket office at Vale Park prior to kick-off on the day of the game.
Click here now for all the information on buying tickets for this fixture.
Port Vale have been installed as 4/5 favourites with Pools rated a 100/30 shot for victory and Sky Bet reckon there’s a 13/5 chance that the tie will go to a replay.