Vale captain Ross Aitken is set on turning around the club’s early season fortunes with a strong performance in tomorrow night’s Evening Express Aberdeenshire Cup quarter-final against Dyce Juniors, the team who ended our involvement in the competition last season.
The Vale come in to the cup tie on the back of a difficult run of fixtures, with just a sole victory and clean sheet against Nairn at the end of July, sandwiching defeats to Brora Rangers, Brechin City and Buckie Thistle. Despite the scorelines in those losses (3-0, 4-1 and 5-0 respectively), the new-look Vale defence has performed well, with Ross moving to a right full-back role having spent the last couple of seasons more centrally, new signings Innes Mckay and James Connelly forging a promising partnership and Kyle Willox providing width in the left-back berth. Goalkeeper Sean McIntosh has also settled in well at the club, making a fine string of saves in each of the matches he’s played in so far, including some spectacular stops against Brechin City and Buckie Thistle. The strength in depth in those positions also means players like Kev Adams, Courtney Cooper, Aaron Hamilton, Harry Noble, Jamie Tinnock and goalkeeper Gav Still provide more than adequate cover for the defensive unit.
Speaking to Vale News, Ross commented, “We know we are in for another couple of tough fixtures this week, but we are determined to put things right on the pitch and that has to start with a positive result in the cup against a strong Dyce side".
All focus will be on tomorrow night and then we can look ahead to Locos at the weekend.
The Vale tackle Dyce Juniors tomorrow evening at Princess Royal Park, where the two teams will be battling for a place in the semi-final and an away match against either Formartine United or Huntly. Vale are likely to be without experienced midfielder Robbie Allan - who has injured his ankle - for Wednesday's cup game and Saturday's league visit to Inverurie Locos.
Grant Noble, who was lined up as a half time sub at Buckie but tweaked his groin while warming up, is also a doubt and defender Aaron Hamilton has been absent due to a knee injury, the extent of which will be determined once the player undergoes a scan.
Vale will be aiming to avenge the loss to Dyce last season but manager Craig Stewart warned: “There is a point to prove for some players and whether they get the opportunity to do that on the back of Saturday’s game, remains to be seen. A number of them didn’t do themselves justice at all and they have the shirt on their back but have they done enough to keep it on the strength of Saturday’s performance? The answer is no for the majority of them. You obviously don’t want to be silly about it and change seven or eight boys, something like that. If I had seven or eight boys to change I might think about it but we will just take a step back and weigh up our options at training”.
"We need to start getting a feel for getting into semi-finals and finals so it's an opportunity and players need to take that opportunity and get into the latter stages of competitions. That’s where we want to be and we will be giving it our all."