Port Vale: Tom Pope set to go head-to-head with former team-mate Marc Richards in Chesterfield clash
TOM Pope is being tipped to come out on top in the battle of the hot-shots at Vale Park today.
The 21-goal striker will go head-to-head with former team-mate Marc Richards when Chesterfield arrive at Vale Park.
And the bookies are backing the current Vale hit-man rather than his predecessor to have the last laugh in the goal-scoring stakes.
Pope, the leading scorer in League Two, is rated 9/4 to bag more goals today than Richards, who is a 15/4 shot with bet365.
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The Sneyd Green star is odds-on at 10/11 to find the net during the game and rated at 20/1 to score a hat-trick, while Richards is 7/4 to score at Vale Park and an understandably long 50/1 to mark his return to the club he left in May with a treble of his own.
And Pope is just 9/2 to bag a brace this afternoon, while Richards is an attractively-priced 10/1 to match that feat.
It has certainly been a stunning turn around in fortunes for the two strikers.
Pope, aged 27, managed to find the net just five times during the whole of last season while strike partner Richards bagged 17 goals before ending his five-year stay in Burslem by joining the Spireites.
But while Pope has more than made up for the loss of Richards at Vale, his old team-mate has netted just three times during a frustrating season for his new club which has been interrupted by injury.
Nevertheless, Vale boss Micky Adams is one man who hasn't forgotten how dangerous Richards can be.
"On his day, Marc's as good as any centre-forward in the division and we'll have to be very mindful of him," he said.
"I was disappointed he decided to leave.
"I thought we made him a fantastic offer at the time, but he obviously thought Chesterfield was a better option.
"So I'll shake him warmly by the throat before the game and possibly shake his hand after."
Adams admitted he had feared the worst when Richards decided to move on.
"You always miss quality players, and in pre-season we were wondering where the goals were going to come from," he added.
"But Marc's moved on and so have we. I'm sure he's looked at us from a distance and thought 'if only' because of the service Tom has had this season."
Vale could go top of the table with victory over a Chesterfield side who have won their last three league games.
VALE will wear black armbands and there will be a minute's applause before the match as a tribute to Steve Fox, the former player who died last week, aged 54.
THERE will be no reprieve for Vale in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
Bradford City, who won Tuesday's tie 2-0, have been expelled from the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player, subject to an appeal.
But although Curtis Good also appeared at Vale Park, there was no issue with the on-loan Newcastle defender's registration for that tie.