Billy Bodin and Matthew Taylor both netted braces to condemn Vale to a 4-0 defeat away at Oxford United.
Oxford pounced in the ninth minute to open the scoring after Aidan Stone had initially saved Marcus Browne’s effort from distance, but only as far as Bodin who fired home the rebound.
Taylor doubled the U’s lead from close range after Browne was played in by Bodin down the left-hand side, before firing an effort across goal to be tapped home by their number nine.
The U’s wrapped up all three points for the hosts, netting two goals five minutes apart in the second half, with the third goal a volley into the top right corner by Bodin, and the fourth a close-range header from Taylor.
Darrell Clarke made five changes to the side that bowed out of the FA Cup last weekend, with Will Forrester among the names returning to the starting 11.
After the host's early opener Vale nearly responded instantly, however, Nathan Smith could not quite connect cleanly to Tom Conlon’s free kick to turn home.
Five minutes later, Simon Eastwood had to be at his best to prevent Ellis Harrison levelling the score for the Valiants when he produced a fabulous fingertip stop to divert our striker’s header onto the bar.
In the seconds that followed, Gavin Massey managed to reach the ball and drag it back to Mal Benning, but our number 11’s effort flashed just wide of the post.
A very eventful first period continued at a high pace in the first 25 minutes, and the Yellows were the next side to see an effort fired just wide when James Henry’s strike from distance took a deflection and went just past the post.
It was a period of close chances for Vale, and in the 30th minute, it was Massey’s turn to see his shot go just wide of the post after he connected well with the ball on the turn.
Vale started the second period on the front foot, and Dan Jones nearly pulled one back for us after 49 minutes, but after receiving the ball from Conlon, his strike whistled just past the far-right-hand post.
Harrison, who proved a handful for the U’s defence all 90 minutes, managed to break free of his marker and leap towards Benning’s cross from the left-hand side, but unfortunately, his glancing effort trickled just wide.
Stone produced a fine double save with 15 minutes to go, first stopping Taylor from inside the box, and then getting up to bat away a Browne effort from the edge of the area.
The Valiants pushed for a late goal but it wasn’t to be, Harrison seeing his low-driven effort fly just wide of the post with only minutes left in the match.
Oxford United | Eastwood, Findlay, Moore, Bodin (86’ Seddon), Taylor (78’ O’Donkor), Browne, Bate, Brown (78’ Jones), Henry (68’ Goodrham), McGuane (68’ Gorrin), Anderson
Unused Subs | McGinty, Mousinho
Port Vale | Stone, Jones, Smith, Conlon, Benning, Forrester (80’ Cass), Massey (80’ Worrall), Harrison, Pett (60’ Politic), Butterworth (60’ Odubeko), Robinson (60’ Garrity)
Unused Subs | Holden, Hall
Attendance | 8,198 (949 Valiants)