Keep doing what you do, Popey: That accolade is richly-deserved

Local hero Tom Pope: 27 goals and counting.

Local hero Tom Pope: 27 goals and counting.

Only time will tell if the weather did us a favour when Saturday’s home game against Aldershot had to be cancelled.

We may not get as many through the turnstiles for a mid-week game but perhaps it has given some of our players carrying knocks time to get match fit.

It goes without saying that today’s game against Cheltenham is huge and represents the first of our six-pointers.

Earlier in the season we’d have had no worries facing anyone but because we’re at home and because of our indifferent form since the middle of February there’s bound to be a few nerves around Vale Park.

The visitors will be well up for it – knowing that a win could put them ahead of us and into the automatic promotion places (albeit we would have a game in hand over them).

But with virtually a full-strength squad to pick from I’m backing the gaffer to put out a team capable of delivering three points.

Now isn’t the time for faint-hearts: It is about believing in the players whose performances have put us in the top three for most of the season.

One of those, of course, is the newly-crowned League Two Player of the Year Tom Pope.

I couldn’t be more happy for a bloke who has made many doubters eat their words this season.

Of course, Tom modestly reflected the glory on to his team-mates who have been instrumental in his impressive tally thus far.

But let’s take nothing away from the first Vale striker in many years who looks set to break the magic 30-goal barrier.

Popey’s recent barren spell has coincided with the team’s poor run of results and, while his strike partner (for the most part) Lee Hughes has been scoring, some fans have been quick to point out that his goalden touch seems to have deserted him.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Popey’s confidence has been dented and he’s snatched at several chances he’d have buried without thinking earlier in the campaign.

But any suggestion that he should have been dropped/rested is nonsense in my opinion.

You don’t leave out a 27-goal striker unless he’s crocked – especially when his work-rate, link-up play and assists are still there for all to see.

I’m loving every minute of the story within a story that is the incredible renaissance of a local lad enjoying the time of his career.

There’s no pressure Popey. Just keep doing what you do. The goals will come.

For all the latest Port Vale news, views and pictures pick up a copy of The Sentinel. The Weekend Sentinel on Saturday includes The Green ‘Un sports paper with extensive Vale coverage.


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