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Opposition Lowdown: Andy Crosby’s Mid-Table Port Vale

Reading return to league action with a home tie against Port Vale at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition.

Port Vale v Derby County - Sky Bet League One Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Form

Port Vale finished last season in 18th place in League One, four points clear of the relegation zone. Despite escaping relegation they had a poor end to the season, losing four out of their last five league games.

They currently sit 14th in League One, seven points ahead of Reading after picking up eight wins, six draws and 11 losses so far this season. Their recent form has been mixed, having seen one win, two draws and two losses in their last five games. They come into this weekend’s game off the back of an exciting 3-3 draw at home to Charlton Athletic.

The two sides faced each other in the second weekend of the season back in August, when the Valiants beat the Royals 1-0 at Vale Park after a second-half goal from Ben Garrity.

The boss

Andy Crosby: Crosby will be a familiar face among Reading fans, having served as Nigel Adkins’ assistant manager during his time at Reading between 2013 and 2014. The former defender had a 20-year playing career in which he represented the likes of Doncaster, Darlington, Brighton & Hove Albion, Oxford United and Scunthorpe United.

He started his coaching career in 2006, serving as Adkins’ assistant at Scunthorpe. He followed Adkins to Southampton in 2010 and then to Reading, Sheffield United and Hull City. He has also served as assistant manager and caretaker manager of the Northern Ireland under-21 team.

Crosby joined Port Vale as a coach in 2021, working under manager Darrell Clarke. He was named interim manager when Clarke was sacked in April last year and was offered the job on a full-time basis in May.

He has won 15 of his 38 games in charge of the Valiants so far, giving him a win percentage of 39%.

Team news

Vale’s top scorer Ben Garrity, who scored the winner against Reading earlier on this season, will miss out on this weekend’s game though injury. Midfielder Funsi Ojo will also miss out. Forward Josh Thomas and midfielder Ollie Arblaster were both recalled from their loans by their parent clubs, however Vale will have new signing Jensen Weir available following his loan move from Brighton.

Expected lineup

Ripley, Debrah, Lowe, Smith, Massey, Grant, Weir, Devine, Wilson, Chislett, Ikpeazu

Key player

Ethan Chislett: Midfielder Chislett joined Port Vale last summer signing from AFC Wimbledon after turning down a new deal at the Dons in favour of a move to Vale Park.

Chislett’s youth career was spent across a number of clubs, spending time at Southampton, Aldershot and Metropolitan Police, where he made his professional debut. He went on to spend time in Spain, before securing a move to Aldershot Town. Chislett joined AFC Wimbledon in August 2020 and went on to make over 100 appearances for The Dons, scoring 16 goals.

The South African midfielder is a creative player who can play in centre midfield, the number 10 role or on the wing. He is having a strong first season at Vale with eight goals and eight assists to his name so far.

One to watch

Jensen Weir: Midfielder Weir joined Port Vale at the start of the week, signing a loan deal from Premier League Brighton until the end of the season. He started his youth career at Wigan Athletic and made his professional debut whilst at the club in 2017.

Weir signed a permanent deal with Brighton in 2020 but is yet to make a first-team appearance for the club. He has had a number of loan spells, playing for the likes of Cambridge United, Morecambe and Blackpool, where he spent the first half of the season.

The Scotsman is the son of former Scotland defender David Weir and has represented his country at under-16, under-17, under-18 and under-20 level. Weir was recalled from his loan spell at Blackpool after starting only four games for the Tangerines, but quickly made the move to Vale.

The 21-year-old is an attacking midfielder with good pace and creativity.