Albion's last match of the season could just turn out to be the last in charge of Port Vale for their former captain.

The alarm bell is ringing at Vale Park because chairman Bill Bell has yet to produce a new two and a half year contract promised to Brian Horton eight weeks ago.

Fans are furious at the way long-serving Bell is running the unfashionable Potteries outfit.

The official supporters club has passed a vote of no confidence in him and is urging people not to renew season tickets in the summer.

A group of local businessmen and former directors, known as Valiant 2001, have been trying to buy Bell out. They offered him £1 million in December for his 80 per cent shareholding, but the saga has dragged on.

Horton, now being linked with the vacant post at Preston, his assistant Mark Grew and coach Martin Foyle agreed their contracts at the same time as seven players. The final straw for fans came in the run-up to Vale's last home game, a dismal goalless draw against Bournemouth.

The widely travelled John Durnin, signed on a free transfer in December, had been performing well and played at Cardiff on Easter Monday. He was released 48 hours later, the club citing financial reasons.

Fans chanted Durnin's name at the Bournemouth game, where the crowd of 3,500 was the lowest of the season.

Horton steered Vale to 11th and an LDV Vans Trophy triumph last season. They are only two places lower this time with a young, small and low budget squad.

A run of four straight wins in February, including away to arch-rivals Stoke, put them in contention for a play-off place, but they have lost six and won just one of their ten matches since then.

Vale's Brooker, striker Steve, said: "The fact we have a small squad has put a lot of strain on the first 11 players this season.

"Apart from when when there have been injuries we haven't been able to rest or alternate players and a lot have played more than 40 matches."

Horton skipped last Saturday's 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield, another of his old clubs, to go scouting. West Brom's Chris Adamson is a candidate to understudy goalkeeper and player of the season Mark Goodlad. Current No. 2 Dean Delany is out of contract in the summer and Adamson, 23, has completed a two-match trial in Vale's reserves.

The talented Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, who missed the 1-0 defeat at Withdean in November through injury, pulls the strings from midfield, but Vale have injury doubts over Michael Walsh and Steve Rowland.

Ending with a victory will not be easy for Albion. Vale have lost five of their 22 outings at home and let in goals at a rate of only one per game.