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In Focus: Robins v. Port Vale

14 December 2012

Columnist & supporter Murry Toms looks ahead to this weekend's top of the table clash.

Focus then returns to the league this weekend and the stand-out fixture of this weekend's programme at the Abbey Business Stadium.

It's second versus third, Port Vale returning to Gloucestershire for the seventh occasion carrying a one-point advantage in the League Two division.

The Robins boast the best home record in the table; only league leaders Gillingham have performed better on the road than the Valiants. There's nothing between the pair.

Cheltenham Town shade it in the head-to-heads, winning five of twelve league contests between the pair with Port Vale winning three. There have been four draws.

It's traditionally a tight fixture with two wins apiece and a couple of draws in the six visits since 2002, and tomorrow's should be no different.

Goals have been at a premium: just six in those six meetings with the biggest margin of victory coming 12 months ago when Darryl Duffy, from the penalty spot, and Luke Summerfield got the goals in a 2-0 win.

Vale's league standing demands respect, and their away form which has been a major factor in securing their lofty position with Christmas looming.

Six wins from ten away games plus two draws have contributed 20 points to their current tally of 39.

Two former Robins have played their part, Ashley Vincent and Jennison Myrie-Williams both with five to their name to help propel Vale into second place ahead of this match.

But there has been a wobble of late, losing three on the bounce in all competitions.

Home defeat by Chesterfield in the league (0-2) amounted to a surprise setback six days ago.

Four days earlier, Micky Adams' side were on the wrong end of more Bradford City cup heroics (0-2), this time in the Northern Section quarter-final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

And before that there was an unsuccessful trip to Sheffield United's Bramall Lane in the FA Cup second round (2-1).

Cheltenham have stuttered themselves in recent weeks, but recovered well from a dreadful start to triumph 3-2 last weekend to end a run of disappointing results away from home.

At home though, they're in confident mood.

Southend United's 3-1 success on September 15 represents Cheltenham's last home defeat in the league, seven games ago (Oxford United won 4-2 in the Johnstone's Paint Southern Section second round on October 9).

It's one of Cheltenham's toughest assignments of the campaign, but an eighth home win of the season over the high-flying Staffordshire club would see Mark Yates' side leapfrog Vale into second position to cap a memorable week.

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