Port Vale: Morsy says there's more to come
THE build-up for Vale's pre-season friendly against Tranmere was shrouded in contract chaos and stadium safety problems.
The biggest cheer from the match itself, a 1-1 draw, was before kick-off when it was revealed 17 of players had signed deals to stay.
What had happened in the days and weeks before had not, by anyone's books, been ideal preparation for a new term.
But one of the rare happy upshots of Vale's predicament is that it has ensured an opening in the middle of midfield for young Sam Morsy.
The 20-year-old's path into the first team had long been blocked by the impressive pairing of Doug Loft and Anthony Griffith.
But Loft's switch to left-back, Griffith's move to Leyton Orient and a lack of funds for any replacements has presented the chance for a run of games for one of Vale's most promising youth graduates.
The former Wolves trainee has seized his moment, putting in four impressive performances back-to-back in the league, both in shielding the defence and in attack.
Morsy put himself in the record books with Vale's quickest ever away goal, a 14-second poacher's special away at Morecambe.
And his shots count shows he is one of the division's most forward-thinking midfielders, offering something different for any fans missing the thundering tackles of Griffith.
The man himself, however, is refusing to get carried away with his displays.
He said: "I feel like I'm doing well, but my aim is to get more goals. I'm happy with how I've been doing, but there's more to come.
"I enjoy playing alongside Chris Shuker. He's a busy player and likes to keep the ball moving in the middle and that suits me too.
"We are going out trying to dictate the pace and with the front players we've got we like to get things moving quickly, putting the opposition on the back foot.
"We've been creating a lot of chances and could, probably should, have more points than we've already got on the board.
"But the team is playing well, we are creating chances and that is the most important thing to see from our performances at the moment."
It was through an own-goal from Ian Goodison that Vale opened the scoring against Tranmere back in early August.
Vale were dominant on the day, but Ronnie Moore's men have since shown that pre-season form counts for little by making a flying start to the campaign.
Rovers have won three and drawn one of their opening four League One fixtures to sit top of the table, while only exiting the Capital One Cup to Premier League Aston Villa.
Manager Moore has promised to ring the changes for a visit to Burslem, but is obliged to pick at least six of the starting line-up who beat Colchester 4-0 on Saturday.
James Wallace and Andy Robinson have been ruled out with slight knocks and Danny Harrison and Max Power are just two expecting a call-up.
Moore, however, is still confident of progressing against Vale.
Perhaps he is taking an omen from the history books.
Vale have faced the Wirral outfit 19 times in cup competition over the years, more than they have played any other team ... but only won on four occasions, including once in a two-legged affair when they crashed out on away goals anyway.
Yet Vale have happy memories from a competition they have won twice, at Wembley in 1993 and at Cardiff in 2001.
Assistant boss Mark Grew said: "They were two fantastic days for the club and we would love a run in this cup again.
"We will put out a team as strong as possible for a tough match against Tranmere."