We look ahead to the weekend's fixture

npower League Two
Saturday January 12 2013
MEMS Priestfield Stadium
Kick-off: 3.00pm

Gillingham manager Martin Allen has no injury or suspension worries ahead of the game with second-placed Port Vale on Saturday but said in his pre-match press conference this afternoon [Thursday] that there would be changes.

New signings Chris Birchall, Lee Hughes and Darren Purse are all likely to be in the Vale squad for the game against the Gills although boss Micky Adams may be reluctant to change a side that won 4-0 against Plymouth on Saturday.

Definitely missing for Vale is central defender John McCombe who has been ruled out with a knee ligament injury sustained in the Fleetwood game on New Year’s Day.

Speaking on Wednesday, Micky Adams told the Port Vale website “Gillingham are a formidable outfit and they have strengthened their side lately. They are and have been the league leaders for most of the season and they have got some good players.

“What we will do is look it and look at their system and personnel and then pick a team from our squad of players to go and compete with them.

“It is a difficult game – it always is against Gillingham regardless. They are a confident unit, we are a confident unit, it is first versus second and we know what we are playing for.

“But that’s the beauty of it, if we beat them we go top, so we will pick a side accordingly.”

Martin Allen’s pre-match thoughts on the weekend’s game will follow on the website later.

Port Vale arrive at Priestfield on Saturday lying second in the League Two table having picked up 49 points (14 wins and seven draws) from their 26 games. They are just two points behind Gillingham who do have a game in hand.

Like the Gills, Micky Adams team have been in good form on their travels recording eight wins that have come at Aldershot (3-1), Bradford (1-0), Dagenham (3-2), Exeter (2-0), Fleetwood (5-2), Morecambe (3-1), Plymouth (3-1) and Rotherham (2-1).
Further points were gained from draws at Burton, Cheltenham and Southend while only Accrington and Northampton have beaten the Valiants away from Vale Park.

Chris Whelpdale and Deon Burton took their respective goal total’s to six and ten respectively when netting at Bristol Rovers last weekend. Danny Kedwell remains narrowly in front with 11 while Myles Weston also has six to his name.

Vale are currently the top scorers in League Two with 54 goals with striker Tom Pope the leading marksman in all divisions with 25 goals. Jennison Myrie-Williams has netted nine times while Louis Dodds and Ben Williamson have seven goals apiece and Ashley Vincent has scored six.

Deon Burton and Chris Whelpdale were both on target in the first-half as the Gills deservedly won 2-0 at Vale Park back in September.

The opening goal came in the 11th minute when Robbie Findley, on loan from Nottingham Forest, crossed perfectly for Burton to head back across Chris Neal. Then with 25 minutes on the clock Joe Martin fed Whelpdale who beat his marker and smacked a rising shot in at the near post.

Micky Adams side created a number of chances as they looked to get back into the game but despite having four in attack towards the end they could not find a way past a stubborn Gills rearguard.

Vale – Neal, McCombe, Loft, Dodds (Williamson 63), Myrie-Williams, Vincent, Pope, McDonald, Shuker (Burge 55), Morsy (Taylor 63), Duffy  Unused subs: Johnson, Owen, Yates, Lloyd
Gills – Nelson, Fish, Martin, Flanagan, Barratt, Wright, Whelpdale, Montrose (Frampton 60), Jackman (Allen 79), Burton, Findley (Kedwell 50)  Unused subs: Forecast, Davies, Strevens, Birchall

There have been 20 previous meetings between the two sides here at Priestfield with Gillingham having won eight, drawn nine and lost three of these.

Having drawn 1-1 here in November 1950 – Dave Thomas netting, the Gills first home victory over Vale came the following season (September 1951) when Derek Lewis (2), Jackie Briggs and Thomas again all netted in a 4-2 win.

Referee – Darren Sheldrake
Assistants – John Farries & Guy Stretton
Fourth Official – Carl Fitch

This will be Darren’s first Gillingham game of the season, he last took charge of a Gills game in the 2-1 victory at Crawley Town on Boxing Day 2011.

The Surrey official has refereed 17 games previously this this season in which he has issued 58 yellow and two red cards.