Hit for six but Port Vale are fighting back

Michael Brown
Michael Brown
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Supporters of Port Vale and Preston North End will feel a certain empathy on the topic of conceding late goals.

The Lilywhites were left to rue Gillingham’s 92nd minute equaliser in Tuesday 2-2 draw at Deepdale.

On the same night, Vale conceded even later – there were 95 minutes on the clock when Scunthorpe pulled level with them to earn a 1-1 draw.

That was the second time in three games in which the Potteries outfit had left the back door open deep into stoppage-time.

They had done likewise at Rochdale on Easter Monday, losing to a 95th minute goal.

The defeat at Spotland was their sixth on the bounce, a run which sent them in freefall down League One.

However, two draws have stabilised them – last week’s stalemate with MK Dons and the 1-1 scoreline at Scunthorpe.

Conceding so late might have made it feel like a defeat but it could still be a valuable point in Vale’s quest to stay out of the bottom four.

They are three points clear of the relegation zone but have played a game more than a couple of their rivals.

Veteran midfielder Michael Brown hopes the two draws has banished the losing mentality which had set in at Vale.

Brown said: “When you lose six in a row you start looking at yourself and thinking, ‘Where have we gone wrong’?

“So we have gone back to being harder to beat first and foremost.

“I think in the three games since we had a little chat about it you can see that has been the case.

“You can see the improvement with regards to that desire not to concede.

“As a team we don’t want to get beaten and we build from there.

“That’s how we have set up and we hope we are going to do that for the next three games.

“We can’t be too disappointed with what happened at Scunthorpe, there is no time because we’ve got Preston now.

“It is a really difficult game and we have to do what we did against MK Dons and hopefully we will be ready for them.”

Brown is one of four players in the Vale squad who has played under Preston manager Simon Grayson.

He did so at Leeds, former PNE centre-half Neill Collins signed by Grayson also.

Vale skipper Carl Dickinson had a loan spell with Leeds in Grayson’s early days there.

The fourth of the quartet is Chris Robertson who Grayson inherited at Deepdale when he became North End boss.

Brown, Dickinson and Collins – on loan at Vale from Sheffield United – are set to start against PNE.

Robertson, who joined Vale in July 2013, is likely to be on the bench.

Surveying the opposition ahead of the Vale Park clash, Grayson said: “They’ve had a difficult run over the last few weeks, losing six on the trot.

“But they’ve come out of that with two draws, one of them against MK Dons last Saturday. Port Vale have some experienced players, some who have worked under me – Michael Brown, Neill Collins and Carl Dickinson.

“They were disappointed to have conceded late at Scunthorpe and are a team desperate for the points so we will have to watch out for that.

“But they will aware of what we can do and the threats we have.”

Vale are hoping to have Tony Pope, scorer of 11 goals, back available after a virus.