Both of these sides find themselves on the verge of the playoffs in their respective divisions, with Port Vale sitting in 8th spot in League One while Brighton occupy 7th in the Championship. Both have experienced moderate FA Cup success in the past, but there’s no doubt that Port Vale will be approaching the clash as huge underdogs.
In a lot of games this weekend, particularly where the side in the lower division holds the home advantage, there is the suspicion that a cup upset could occur. However, most bookmakers seem to have ignored this philosophy ahead of this clash at Vale Park, with opponents Brighton classed as resounding favourites. When one analyses the recent Port Vale form, it’s really no surprise why either. Micky Adams’ men certainly aren’t struggling, but two wins from five this month hardly describes a team in full flow. Additionally, their path to this stage has hardly been cumbersome and after only edging past Plymouth courtesy of a 3-2 replay victory, it would be fair to say that they’ve reached the fourth round through the back door. Still, let’s not be too negative about Vale – they are in 8th spot in League One for a reason. The main reason seems to be their home form as well and having not lost at Vale Park in their last six, Adams will be hoping to extract some confidence from that fact.
Brighton on the other hand will be looking to respond following their 1-0 defeat to Derby last Saturday. That loss actually ended a four match unbeaten run for the Seagulls, and put a stop to a two game winning sequence at the same time. Nevertheless, Oscar Garcia’s side are in a strong position with just two points separating them from the top six places. Additionally, throughout the campaign they have shown a decent degree of strength on the road, having lost just two of their last eight away games.
Something that will hinder Port Vale significantly ahead of the trip is the absence of several players. Vale have been preparing in the knowledge that both Carl Dickinson and Joe Davis won’t be featuring, with suspension and ineligibility ruling the duo out respectively. Floren Cuvelier is another player who will miss out as a knee injury hinders him, although there could be better news in relation to Gavin Tomlin following his fitness woes. Brighton on the other hand will not be able to call upon Kazenga LuaLua as he continues to struggle with a hamstring complaint. However, there might be a place for Will Buckley, as he bids to come up to speed following a month on the sidelines.
In terms of a prediction, we think the bookies will prove to be spot on for this clash. Port Vale might hold the home advantage, but we just think Brighton have far too much quality and will ease to a 3-1 victory over their opponents.