Ten-man Port Vale put in a brave performance against Crewe Alexandra on Saturday afternoon, but a solitary goal from Chris Dagnall proved decisive as the Railwaymen left Vale Park with all three points.
Tom Pope and Marcus Harness both had efforts cleared off the line during a spirited second half display, but Michael Brown’s men couldn’t find a leveller.
During the opening minute of the game, Crewe surged forward and created the first opportunity as Zoumana Bakayogo saw an effort skim the crossbar after the ball fell kindly to him in the area.
Vale then worked some space for David Worrall to let fly soon after, but the debutant’s distant effort swerved just off target.
With seven minutes on the clock the visitors saw a good chance go begging as Chris Porter headed wide of Sam Hornby’s post.
The high tempo continued and both teams looked determined to find a breakthrough, but despite Vale enjoying a positive spell, they couldn’t force the goalkeeper into action.
That was until the 24th minute, however, as Tom Pope met a cross from Worrall to send a looping header into the arms of Ben Garratt.
Just two minutes later Marcus Harness elected to shoot from range after evading a Crewe challenge, but his strike flew wide of the target.
Against the run of play, the visitors then pulled themselves ahead on the 30-minute mark following some patient build-up play.
George Cooper’s cross from the left flank found Chris Dagnall inside the Vale area and the striker made no mistakes with his headed finish that flew beyond Hornby.
Just moments after falling behind, Vale were then reduced to 10 men as Michael Tonge was shown a straight red card for a foul on Cooper.
The Crewe midfielder then returned to the pitch and he fizzed a low strike narrowly wide on 38 minutes. Pope then struck the side-netting up the other end, but Vale went in a goal down at half-time.
Following the restart, the Valiants started brightly and Harness was unfortunate to see a goal bound effort deflect off target via the back of one of his teammates.
The hosts then saw three chances come and go in quick succession with 52 minutes played. Pope watched his initial header crash off the underside of the bar and onto the line, Harness’ follow-up was then blocked before another stab at goal fell the wrong side of the post.
As Vale continued pile the pressure on the Crewe defence, Ben Whitfield picked out substitute Rekeil Pyke and his header was smothered by Garratt.
The striker then went close once more just before the hour mark as he stooped to volley a shot inches wide from close range after Pope found him with a smart knockdown.
Crewe then fashioned a shooting opportunity of their own on 68 minutes as Ryan Wintle decided to try his luck from 25 yards, calling Hornby into a fine low save. The goalkeeper was then forced to react once more as he tipped over a powerful Porter header shortly after.
In the final stages, the Valiants threw bodies forward in attempt to find an equaliser and Cristian Montano stung the palms of Garratt from range with 81 minutes played.
The winger then raced into the area before going down under a challenge moments later, but the referee waved away the penalty appeals and the away side held on to win.
Port Vale: Hornby, Denton, Davis, Kay ©, Smith, Tonge, Harness (Montano 72), Whitfield, Worrall (Turner 88), Stobbs (Pyke 45), Pope.
Unused Substitutes: Boot, Wilson, Gunning, de Freitas.
Crewe Alexandra: Garratt, Ng, Bakayogo, Walker, Porter, Dagnall ©, Cooper (Bowery 90), Nolan, Ainley, Wintle, Lowery.
Unused Substitutes: Richards, Pickering, Dale, Kirk, Finney, Sass-Davies.
Attendance: 6,299 (1,126 away).