* The Unofficial "Official" Boro v Port Vale. Caraboa Cup, Quarter-Final, Match-Day Thread *


Well-known member
It's that time again.....

Dael Fry
wasn't yet 7 years old when we last won the Carling [League] Cup. Hayden Hackney was 2 and Josh Coburn was 1 1/2. Other than those three local lads, none of the others from the area were actually born! It's a sign of becoming more mature when you have to be of a certain age to remember that wonderful day in Cardiff and the trials and tribulations it took the fans and the team to get there. It may be a little pre-emptive to presume we are even going to make it to the Final, because a revived Vale won't be laying down and paying us any compliments. They haven't had their best season for a while, but they will be up at least one gear for tonight's game. Meeting Vale isn't something we've done for many seasons over the years, but they pose a threat and won't be easy opponents.

Since our magnificent 3-1 Victory against Vale in the Zenith Data Systems Cup, we've played the Valiant's nine times, with the majority of results going in our favour:

Boro: W6 D0 L3

Our last outing was in April 1998 with a 1-0 victory: Paul Merson scored in the second minute at Vale Park, and we hung on. The team we fielded that day was a formidable one. It's a wonder we didn't score more! A little known statistic about that team that day, was the average age of our players was almost 29!

Carrick believes that our current crop of players will give Vale the respect they deserve, and also commented that some of our younger players might get their chance. But let's not forget, it's a "Cup Final" of sorts for Vale. They have for so long played in the lower leagues and would love to face the likes of a big Premier Club in the next round! It reminds us of the days when Boro had hit rock-bottom, playing in the old Third Division, and we dreamt of playing English footballs' aristocracy.

Connor Ripley
did a superb job keeping out Mansfield Town on a filthy night at Field Mill in the last round. A 1-0 victory saw off the Stags and sent Vale fans home happy. A young Alfie Devine sent the travelling fans wild just five minutes into the second half, but it was enough and got the job done!

We should never miss up the opportunity to progress in any Domestic Cup by being complacent or putting out a "second string" team. As far as our Head Coach is concerned, every match is the most important, and he certainly knows the feeling of lifting at least a few domestic trophies in his time: 9 domestic cups, including the Charity Shield, the League Cup and the FA Cup!

Carrick won't be taking it lightly. Let's hope some of the younger lads do get a chance, and let's keep our fingers crossed to stay injury free. Who knows, we may also see the return of one or two of our injured players in cameo appearances? Its a golden opportunity to keep the season afire. Come On Boro.

I’d like to see a young bench, but we try to put the game to bed early. I know it won’t work out like that…..it’s Boro…..but a couple of early goals would be just the ticket
Valiant's Preview tonight's Quarter Final:


The Valiants make club history this evening as we step onto the pitch as Carabao Cup Quarter Finalists for the first time in our history. We welcome Middlesbrough to Vale Park in what will be the first meeting between the sides since the turn of the millennium.

The Valiant's come into the game off the back of a dramatic 3-2 win against Wigan Athletic. A first half brace from Ethan Chislett gave Vale a 2-0 lead at the break. Wigan found a way back into the game when Chris Sze found the net from close range in the 63rd minute.

Charlie Wyke then levelled the game for the Latics and with ten minutes to go it was anyone’s game. In the 83rd minute, Ethan Chislett was awarded space on the edge of the Wigan box before he took aim and his deflected effort looped over Sam Tickle and nestled in the back of the net to earn him his first career hat trick and three points for the Vale.

The Story So Far...

In the First Round of the Carabao Cup, the Vale beat fellow League One side Fleetwood Town 3-2 at Vale Park. The Cod Army took an early lead when Cian Hayes found the top corner with a curled effort from outside the box. Just thirteen minutes later, the Vale were level when Ethan Chislett curled home an effort of his own when he found the far corner from the left side of the box. Soon after the break, Ryan Graydon headed his side into the lead when he met a corner at the near post. On the hour mark, Vale levelled again when Josh Thomas muscled his way into the box before finishing well from the right side of the box.
The winning goal came in the 72nd minute when Gavin Massey won the ball in midfield before crossing to Chislett who headed home from close range.

In Round Two, the Valiants played host to League Two outfit Crewe Alexandra. After a fairly even ninety minutes, the game went straight to penalties. Elliot Nevitt stepped up first for The Alex and blazed his spot kick over the crossbar, which set the tone for his side as they missed all four of their penalties.

Connor Ripley saved one, and the other two crashed off the crossbar. For Vale, James Wilson and Ollie Arblaster scored the winning penalties to help Vale progress into the third round

Vale took on Sutton United in the Third Round of the Carabao Cup. It took 49 minutes until the game saw its first goal, Rhys Walters won the ball in midfield and played In Josh Thomas, who burst into the Sutton box before calmly slotting past the on-rushing keeper. With twenty minutes of the game left, the visitors levelled the score when Hisham Kasimu broke into the Vale box before calmly finishing with the outside of his boot to make it 1-1.

After pushing for the winner, Vale finally went ahead in the 83rd minute through Funso Ojo’s 25-yard strike that moved in the air and fooled the Sutton keeper. This excellent strike earned Vale a place in the Fourth Round for the first time in 17 seasons since that famous trip to White Hart Lane in 2006 when the Valiants took on Tottenham Hotspur.
The Valiants travelled to League Two side Mansfield in the fourth Round of the Carabao Cup in what was a momentous occasion for both clubs.

Going into the game, The Stags were unbeaten all season and were probably the favourites despite being a league below. The Vale started the better of the sides at a foggy Field Mill and had chances to take the lead when Ollie Arblaster and Tom Sang forced saves from Christy Pym in Stags' goal. Just before the break, Arblaster had the best chance of the game, but his volley crashed off the post before going wide. Five minutes into the second half, the game's deciding moment came. Alfie Devine won the ball on halfway before bursting into the Mansfield half, The Spurs loanee then unleashed a curling effort that found the bottom corner and sparked jubilant scenes in the away end. After going a goal up, Vale pushed for a second and came close when Uche Ikpeazu hit the bar.

After a gruelling ten minutes of injury time, the referee finally called a halt to the game and history was made has Vale had reached the Carabao Cup Quarter Final for the first time in the club's long history.


Vale Manager
Andy Crosby

Here’s what the gaffer had to say ahead of his side's historic Carabao Cup fixture:

“We certainly can’t get embroiled in playing the occasion. It’s a football match against a team who are higher up. A Championship football team who have a rich history. They won on Saturday, they’re in a good run of form, with a squad full of good players. But football being what it is, there’s always an upset.

"The underdogs don’t always lose. That’s the mindset we’re going into this game with. We’re going to attack this game, we're going to try and play on the front foot, we're going to be the best version of ourselves, and then we’ll see what happens”

The Opposition:

Middlesbrough currently occupies 13th place in the Sky Bet Championship. They have won two of their last five league games, including a 2-1 victory on Saturday against Swansea City. Sam Greenwood gave Boro the lead on Saturday before Jamal Lowe levelled the scores for the Swans on the hour mark, second half sub, Samuel Silvera scored the winner in the 78th minute to earn his side their first win in four games.

Last season, Middlesbrough finished 4th in the Championship but came unstuck against Coventry City in the Play Offs Semi Final after losing 1-0 on aggregate. This season, they haven’t yet lived up to their success last season. They had to wait eight games for their first league win but have since steadied the ship as they sit comfortably in mid-table.

Who’s in Charge:
Boro are managed by former Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick. This is Carrick’s first official managerial role. However, he was appointed caretaker manager at Old Trafford in November 2021 after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked. In Carrick’s three games in charge, he guided the Red Devils to wins over Villareal in the Europe League and Arsenal in the Premier League. He then stood down when Ralf Rangnick was appointed head coach on December 2nd 2021.

Carrick was appointed manager of Middlesbrough on the 24th October 2022 when Boro were 21st in the league with 17 points from 16 games, one point above the relegation zone. The Englishman made an immediate impact and was awarded Manager of the Month in November 2022. At the end of the 2021/22 season, he guided his side to a 7th place finish, missing out on the Play Offs by five points. Carrick improved on this finish last season as they finished 4th but were beaten by Coventry City in a two-legged Play Offs Semi Final.

Player to Watch – Matt Crooks

The Middlesbrough side is littered with experienced players, none more so than Matt Crooks who has played over 300 professional games over the course of his career. Since arriving at the Riverside in July 2021 he has gone onto make over 90 appearances for Boro.

So far this season, Crooks has played 21 games, with nine goal involvements, which include three goals and six assists from his attacking midfield role.
Boro’s top scorer is 24-year-old Emmanuel Latte Lath, The Ivorian striker joined the club in the summer from Italian giants Atalanta. He has found the net seven times in 19 appearances. His last goal came in a 2-1 defeat against Hull City when he opened the scoring in the 6th minute of the game.

Connor Ripley - interviewed by Ben fisher. Published in today's Guardian [19/12/2023.]



Connor Ripley was born at the James Cook University hospital in Middlesbrough, just under three miles down the road from the Riverside Stadium, and spent nine years on the books of his boyhood club. His father, Stuart, is regarded a home-grown Boro hero, the former winger an integral part of the team that returned to the top flight in 1988 via successive promotions, having been locked out of Ayresome Park when the club entered liquidation.

“The Ripley name has got …” the 30-year-old says, restarting his sentence. “The Stuart Ripley name has got a bit of clout in Middlesbrough, I’m not sure Connor Ripley has … my dad’s team was special to Middlesbrough and that’s why everyone will always relate to them.”
On Tuesday Ripley, part of the Port Vale team bidding to reach a first League Cup semi-final, will face Boro in a competitive match for the first time. Since the draw, childhood friends have been among those wanting tickets. “Half of Middlesbrough want to come and watch me,” he says, laughing.

The only time Ripley came up against Boro was in a pre-season friendly while at Morecambe last season. Third-tier Vale made it through four rounds to tee up this home tie, a significant one for the family. His mother, Julie, his auntie, Angela, and Louis, a Boro-mad cousin, will be among those in the stands.

Ripley is warm company as we touch on Vale’s history-making run to the quarter-finals – they have never previously reached this stage of the competition – and everything from Wikipedia (which, to his surprise, details how he speaks French from living in Switzerland for three years as a boy) to the evolving profile of world-class goalkeepers. “Ederson and Alisson can zing a ball on a sixpence right under your foot,” he says. “Pickford, Ramsdale and Sam Johnstone are able to clip those balls with scary accuracy as well … some of them have a better passing range than outfield players. It is something that you need to have in your arsenal if you’re a keeper now. It is not just about keeping the ball out of the net any more.”

Many of the key cogs at Boro during Ripley’s time on the books of the club were his father’s former teammates. Tony Mowbray – the former Boro Captain who led the club from liquidation back into the top tier – became his manager, Stephen Pears was his goalkeeping coach and Gary Gill a scout. Mark Proctor was his first under-18s coach. “When you’ve got a dad who is a footballer, you always have that bit of added pressure,” Ripley says.

“It was weird because they would talk about my dad, give me a few stories here and there, but when it came down to it, I knew I was there because I was good enough and on my own merit. I might have had the odd push from my dad now and then, but you don’t get this far living off your dad’s name.”
Ripley Jr, naturally, got a first-hand account of those days on Teesside. “I remember my dad telling me there were months when he wasn’t – and nobody was – getting paid, but they were still winning and got promoted. They saved the club, basically. Middlesbrough wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for those players. I think that is why there is such a big affiliation with my family.”

His father went on to win the Premier League with Blackburn in 1994‑95. “There are plenty of times when you can put on [Sky Sports’] Premier League Years and see him crossing it in for Shearer and Sutton. I was there when they were doing the [title] parade around Ewood Park. My brother was on the pitch with my dad, and I think I was fast asleep in my mam’s arms. It cannot have been that exciting …”
Ripley’s father lived in Brockhall, round the corner from Blackburn’s training base and his mother in Whalley, where he played Sunday League for the village’s local side as a striker. “When I was younger I was about 6ft and 15st … the rest of the kids were about 5ft 4in and weighed about 10st ringing wet,” he says, smiling. “It helped me in that position because I was a lot bigger than most people, but they all caught up to me and realised that I wasn’t as good as they thought I was. I was just a big brute who used to bulldoze people down. But I was a good goalkeeper.”

[Ripley played a major role keeping the Stags at bay at Field Mill].

When Blackburn released him, he was coveted by Sunderland, Aston Villa, Leicester and Boro, his days up front long gone. “I chose Middlesbrough because I was a massive Middlesbrough fan and still am,” he says.

Massimo Maccarone’s late header against Steaua Bucharest to propel Boro into the Uefa Cup final in 2006 sticks in the memory – “Massimo’s header is the best thing I’ve seen in football” – and he talks fondly of growing up watching Gareth Southgate, Joseph-Désiré Job and Ugo Ehiogu. Being on the bench at Wembley in 2015, when Norwich beat Boro to win promotion to the Premier League via the playoff final, he says, was both a brilliant and agonizing experience.


“Ultimately I’m not there any more and when I play against them, I’m not a fan any more, I’m a Port Vale player and a Port Vale fan, and we’re going out there to beat them.”

Vale represent the 14th club of Ripley’s rather nomadic career, one that has taken in nine loans, including to then second-tier Östersund in 2014, led then by a little-known coach by the name of Graham Potter. “It was Total Football in Sweden – you don’t kick it long there,” Ripley says.

He tells a story about being picked up from the airport by Östersund’s then first-team coach, Brian Wake – who also hails from Teesside – in blizzard conditions. “I looked to my left and there was a bloody elk running around – they are humongous,” Ripley says. “Another time I went skiing there, and you would look across the mountain and see a herd of reindeer just running around. I was thinking: ‘You don’t get this in England.’”

Ones to Watch - Port Vale:
Ethen Chislett
South African born midfielder, began his career at Southampton, progressing through his Senior Career, including The Metropolitan Police [twice], Aldershot and Wimbledon. Joined Vale in July this year and has scored 6 goals and three assists and their second top scorer.

Nathan smith [Vale Captain]
Like an annoying rat - chases ankles, especially other people's, and is as welcome by the opposition as a wasp in a space suit.
Good at his job. Hasn't scored any goals, but recently got sent off 🟥


Ben Garrity

Scouser: although 26, only turned professional in 2020 and joined from Blackpool in 2021. Described as a "box-to-box" midfielder, he has become the locals "hero" because of his habit of popping up in the opposition area, creating problems.
Scored 8 goals and made 1 assist so far this season - in the absence of a regular striker!

Oliver Arblaster
19-year-old midfielder on loan from Sheffield United [Grrr] with whom he began his career in their academy aged 6.
Pacey - is the Valiants other "wasp" - but usually at the other end of the pitch! 2 goals and 2 assists so far this season.

Jason Lowe
Defender. Now 32.
Between 2009 and 2017 made 173 appearances for Blackburn Rovers. Also played for Bolton, Birmingham and Salford before signing for the Valiants in July this year. Interestingly, his career at Birmingham lasted just 9 appearances, which were halted with the arrival of Gary monk as Blues Manager.


Alfie Devine
Attacking midfielder.
On loan from Spurs.
Began his footballing career at Liverpool, but signed for the Spuds in 2021 and joined Vale on loan in July this year.
3 goals and 3 assists in the league, but also scored that winning "Get In" goal against Nigel Clough's stags in the last round of the Carabao Cup.


Funso Ojo

Labelled "Super Sub" - has a habit of coming off the bench and either scoring or facilitating goals.
Only scored three goals so far this season, but dangerous in and around the box.
Not one to take our eyes off.

Big game for Silvera and Rogers. Hope they have a similar impact to Saturday but obviously over the course of the full game. Lath to get on the scoresheet and get more goals??