Phil Brown says Barrow AFC must aim to “put a spanner in the works” of a Port Vale side who he views as a good example on and off the field.

The fourth-placed Valiants have got things right in both departments, reckons Bluebirds boss Brown.

But he hopes to stop them in their tracks on a day the Bluebirds are seeking vital points in their bid for survival (Dunes Hotel Stadium, 3pm).

Vale have remained in the promotion hunt despite the recent absence of manager Darrell Clarke on compassionate leave.

Brown says the visitors’ set-up, involving director of football David Flitcroft, shows the benefits of a positive footballing infrastructure.

“I know Flicker very well – he was at the game the other night when me and Macca [Neil McDonald] went to see Crawley play at Salford, because we’ve got them the next game.

“He’s doing a great job – they seem a very well-organised club and that spills onto the pitch.

“When you get it right off the pitch, on the pitch tends to take care of itself. That’s what Port Vale are.

“They’ve got a game plan, a set system they’re working at, everybody knows their jobs and roles, and are doing it very well and efficiently.

“All our thoughts and sympathies go to the manager and his family. We know it’s been a difficult time for him and the club.

“But they have seemed to seamlessly carry on, on the field of play, and that’s probably down to the infrastructure I’m talking about.

“It’s like the swan going along the river. You see it gliding along but it’s paddling away like crazy underneath.

“You don’t see the work behind the scenes – you see the guy scoring and celebrating but not the work that goes into that.

“It’s something we’re striving towards, something Port Vale look to have got right, but we’ll be trying to put a spanner in the works on Saturday.”

Barrow start the weekend three points above the relegation zone, while third-bottom Oldham go to second-bottom Stevenage in another six-pointer this afternoon.

While AFC are seeking only a second win in 11 games, their opponents have won four of their last five under interim manager Andy Crosby, with Vale having this week announced that manager Clarke is making a staged return after his compassionate leave.

Brown added: “They deserve to be there, they’re a very consistent side and we’ve got to put a spanner in the works.

“Every team I come up against or have been watching always seems to have three or four players I’ve worked with, and these are no different with Chris Hussey, Dave Worrall and Jamie Proctor.

“I’m looking forward to seeing them and shaking their hands before the game, and also afterwards with us having won it.”