Port Vale: Danny buoyed by array of attacking talent on parade for Vale
DANNY Jones has every sympathy for defenders trying to stop Port Vale's "goal-den" boys.
The left-back says the formidable combination of Tom Pope and Lee Hughes creates the kind of firepower that is every back four's worst nightmare.
Rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon are the next team in the firing line at Vale Park tonight (7.45pm).
And Jones, who made a goal-scoring debut against the same opposition less than two weeks ago, is just glad he's not having to tackle the dynamic duo.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
"It's a fantastic partnership which will cause problems for everyone we play," he said.
"They are so dangerous together and they complement each other too.
"Hughesy is the kind of guy who might not have a kick for 80-odd minutes, but then he'll come away with the match ball.
"And Popey has been on fire all season. His record of 27 goals says it all.
"They're always going to score goals, and they've proved that not many can keep them out.
"Popey's being doing that since the start and then Hughesy did it against Accrington on Saturday.
"They rely on their instincts and, while it's great to be playing with people like that, it must be tough to play against."
Jones, aged 26, says they are also a dream to play with.
"You can put the ball into the box for those two and they'll make something out of nothing," he added.
"I put one ball in on Saturday and it wasn't quite the one I wanted.
"But Hughesy was on the move, got across his man and got a header in.
"He's on the move all the time.
"Then you have Popey, who loves to pull off on to the full-back and win his headers.
"It means if I just aim for an area, I know one of them is going to be on the end of it. It's up to me to get the ball in there."
Not that Vale's HP Force is the only tasty combination in Burslem right now.
Wingers Jennison Myrie-Williams and Ashley Vincent have also been terrorising defences all season, while Ryan Burge and Doug Loft have struck up a useful partnership in the middle of the park.
"Our pitch is massive and the wingers use it to their advantage," added Jones, who joined Vale three weeks ago after being released by Sheffield Wednesday.
"Ash and Jeno are flying down the wings, while Burgey and Lofty are always quick to see a pass.
"There's such a lot of pace in the team, and that's one of the things that has helped me to settle in so quickly.
"We're very direct and attack at every opportunity and that suits my style of play.
"As a defender, it's obviously important to keep clean sheets, like we did on Saturday, but the more goals we score the better."
Jones is one of several players in the Vale squad with experience of promotion, having been part of the Wednesday squad who went up from League One to the Championship in 2011/12.
He says games like tonight's clash against a team at the wrong end of the table can be key to the season.
"These are the sort of fixtures that can give you a leg up," he said.
"They'll come here wanting to shoot us down and we have to be big enough as a team to withstand that and take our opportunities.
"When you're at the top you have to expect that.
"It might be scrappy and we might have to nick a 1-0 win, but you can look back on a season sometimes and think this result, or that result, was one of the most satisfying."
The televised game at Kingsmeadow 12 days ago did not go according to plan.
Vale looked to be heading for defeat when Jack Midson put the Dons two up. But Jones marked his debut with a 30-yard screamer before hot-shot Pope levelled it up after the break.
"We played them the other week and they did well," added Jones.
"We had a slow start, but we over-ran them in the second half. We were unlucky not to win in the end.
"Our fitness shone through down there and hopefully, on our big pitch, that can help again.
"It's going to be tough because they're scrapping for their lives, so we'll have to be at the top of our game."