Port Vale haven't won an away game since January 1st when they picked up three points at Forest Green. At that point they found themselves sitting comfortably in ninth place and only three points off the play-offs. In contrast, Charlton were 16th.
Vale then embarked on a run which would bring them only three wins in four months and, by the time they left The Valley at the end of April, the positions had been reversed with Charlton in tenth and the visitors down in 18th. Charlton won that game 3-2 with Jes Rak-Sakyi scoring a fine individual goal and setting up Tyreece Campbell and Miles Leaburn for the other two.
When Vale lost their first game of this season 0-7 at Barnsley it looked like more of the same. However, for their second league fixture, manager Andy Crosby made four changes which had the desired effect. His team beat Reading 1-0 and followed that up on Tuesday by holding Blackpool to a 0-0 draw at Bloomfield Road. As a result, despite having the worst goal difference in League One, Vale will arrive at The Valley in 13th place - two places above their hosts.
Crosby is concentrating on fitness to see his team through this season:
"We have to aim to be the fittest team in the league - that has to be our aim, so we've recruited some really good athletic players, We've got them fresh and fit for the first game of the season and fitter for the 46th game of the season - that's what we've fed back to players and they've bought into that. If we can try to be the fittest, most organised team in this league, we're going to give ourselves an opportunity."
There were one or two question marks over some Charlton players' durability as they submitted to a 98th minute defeat by Bristol Rovers on Tuesday evening, but Dean Holden is still positive:
“The last thing we’re going to do is feel sorry for ourselves. It’s up to us to keep everybody bubbling, make sure we keep the positivity about the place. We’re not far away from that next three points.”
Despite three consecutive defeats it is hard to argue with that. Tayo Edun looks a really positive addition at left back and surely there will be more to come from Panutche Camara as he gains full fitness. George Dobson has started the season in terrific form. Daniel Kanu added a spark up front on Tuesday and must surely start on Saturday. Alfie May continues to chase lost causes but his luck must improve soon.
Port Vale have only won once at The Valley in sixteen attempts since 1930. With a total of three league goals between them in nine hours play, these teams look unlikely to provide us a goal feast but a 1-0 home win would be gratefully received even if it papers over a few cracks.