Martin Tideswell: Cup exits leave no excuses in promotion push
RIGHT. I'll cancel that charabanc for Wembley then, shall I?
Let's put it this way, I'm hoping we won't need one for any play-off action come May as we are perfectly positioned to get promoted automatically.
The FA Cup was a potential revenue raiser and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy could have given us all a great day out.
But am I really that disappointed that we crashed out of both competitions this week?
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In all honesty, no.
Am I disappointed with aspects of the performances – particularly the second half against Bradford? Yes.
Am I disappointed by the match officials? Endlessly.
But let's try to take the positives from the past week.
We've demonstrated we can compete against the likes of high-flying Sheffield United in the league above.
Once again Vale's travelling support excelled themselves and deserve huge credit.
Micky Adams has now given game time to some fringe players and has virtually a full-strength squad to pick from.
Tom Pope is back from his one-match suspension along with the impressive Ryan Burge and Kingsley James, who I would hope would go straight back into tomorrow's starting line-up against Chesterfield.
In recent years we've been poor over the Christmas period and we've certainly got some tricky games to contend with over the next four weeks.
However, we are well capable of beating anyone in this league and remaining in the top-three spots is certainly achievable.
If we do that then I think we have an easier run in to the end of the season than some of our rivals and that is when, hopefully, our quality and goal threat will tell.
My only real concerns are the fact that our centre-halves are being shown up to be slow and that we don't appear to have a plan B when teams double-up on wingers Ashley Vincent and Jennison Myrie-Williams.
We have to some how find a way of exploiting the time and space this creates for our central midfielders to do their work.
Yes, the squad may be strengthened in January but, for me, the most important thing is that Pope remains at the club – along with Doug Loft, our wingers and goalkeeper Chris Neal, who has been excellent.
Pope could get 35 goals this season and this team should go straight up.
There are no cup distractions.
Off-the-field woes are a thing of the past. It's time to deliver.