Football: West Bromwich look to buck the trend

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The Independent Online
West Bromwich Albion will attempt to improve the worst home record in the Nationwide First Division against Port Vale today with Richard Sneekes urging the crowd to support the manager, Alan Buckley. Supporters demanded his resignation after the last home game, a goalless draw with Bradford City, which was followed by a 4-0 defeat at Portsmouth last weekend.

Sneekes said: "The way the fans started calling for Buckley's head after the Bradford game was out of order because he has done everything he can for Albion. He gives 100 per cent and a lot more to the cause. He can put his work in all week but, once we are out on the pitch, then the responsibility lies with the players and we have let the supporters and the manager down."

Port Vale are to revert to the 4-5-1 system which has brought recent away league wins at Wolves and Huddersfield, with Lee Mills expected to make way for midfielder Stuart Talbot and Tony Naylor a lone striker.

The Vale winger Steve Guppy is expected to have recovered from the back injury suffered in the pre-match warm-up at the Manor Ground, while captain Neil Aspin has shaken off a knee problem.

The Albion-Vale game is one of only three today in the First Division, following the postponement of several fixtures due to international commitments.

Portsmouth will be looking to Lee Bradbury to continue his recent good form as they aim to complete a hat-trick of victories when they visit Oldham. Bradbury, signed from non-league Cowes at the start of the 1995- 96 season, is currently enjoying a run of five goals in seven games and has scored in the last three.

Portsmouth are set to give a debut to David Hillier, signed from Arsenal, after he shook off a foot injury suffered in a reserve match. He will replace Alan McLoughlin, on duty for the Republic of Ireland, while Fitzroy Simpson is serving a one-match ban.

Oldham will be without Norway's Gunnar Halle, so Carl Serrant will be drafted into the side at left-back.

The Tottenham defender Jason Cundy will try and patch up an injury-ravaged defence as he makes his debut on loan to Ipswich in their home encounter with Southend.

Defenders Claus Thomsen, Chris Swailes, Tony Vaughan and captain Tony Mowbray are all injured, while striker Alex Mathie out for the season and James Scowcroft is on England Under-21 duty. Their absence will allow 19-year-old Richard Naylor to make his full debut.

Southend will be without their captain, Mike Marsh, who underwent a knee operation in midweek, and either Paul Byrne and Phil Gridelet will replace him.