Imps v Port Vale preview – We’re into the final straight

Tomorrow sees us visit Vale Park for the first time since 2011, but this time we don’t go searching for the points that will keep us in the Football League. Tomorrow, we’re hunting top seven consolidation.

I know there’s plenty of you who still feel we’re on for the top three, but as a voice of reason I see a play off spot the best outcome for us right now. That should be achievable by picking up nine or ten points over the next six games and we can take a big step towards that goal with the trip to Vale.

Don’t be mistaken in thinking them being 19th means it’ll be an easy game, it won’t. We could say this is one of the games you have to win if you want to finish top seven, that much is probably true. However, some excellent work over the last few weeks actually leaves us in a solid position tomorrow. You’d call four from the next two matches as a decent outcome, especially as one of those games is against Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe.

So, what do the stats say? Once again, courtesy of www.kickoff.co.uk, we have a rage of graphics depicting different things for you to ponder over and ultimately disregard, but there are some patterns we might find useful.

www.kickoff.co.uk

We’re slight favourites for the game, despite the home advantage for Vale. They’ve become more solid under Neil Aspin and have done enough to sustain their league status, but by rights we should win the game. I remember saying something very similar against Crewe, so for now we’ll keep the confidence to a minimum.

That said, Port Vale have won one in their last 17 outings, that coming in a victory against fellow strugglers Chesterfield.

www.kickoff.co.uk

The most likely outcome is not only a Lincoln win, but by one goal to nil. That’s on a par with a 1-1 draw, so the stats expect a tight game won by a solitary goal. Considering our last two games have been 1-0 wins, I wouldn’t rule it out either.

www.kickoff.co.uk

The form guide looks fairly even, but remember this is our away form against their home form. We’ve lost fewer games than they have, as well as winning slightly more. Despite their horrible run, the form guide doesn’t suggest an all-out whitewash just yet. However, a ‘click on in depth stats’ tells us a different story altogether.

www.kickoff.co.uk

For the first time this season, all of the form stats fall in our favour. In every single aspect we triumph over them, from games conceded in to average goals conceded. There are a couple of fields on which we draw, but in truth this game really should be a Lincoln City win. As I always say though, statistics can capture the maths of football, but not its unpredictable nature, nor it’s absolute beauty.

For once, we even face less shots and conceded fewer goals per shots than our opponents. That is unusual, although winning the head to head didn’t do the Grecians any good the other week, did it?

On the next page: betting tips for the whole Football League, who might score first and a word of caution.