Port Vale slipped to a home defeat against Grimsby Town on Saturday afternoon as Neil Aspin took charge for the first time.
Tom Pope had given the Valiants a half-time lead, but goals from Sam Jones and Siriki Dembele in the second 45 minutes meant the visitors left Vale Park with all three points.
During the opening exchanges, the two teams shared possession, but it was Vale who looked more threating going forward with James Gibbons and Marcus Harness combining well down the right flank. However, despite playing some tidy football, Grimsby ‘keeper James McKeown remained untroubled.
That was until the 14th minute, however, as Tom Pope picked out Gavin Gunning with a cross. The defender then outjumped to head the ball towards goal, but it was gathered by McKeown. He was then required seconds later, holding onto a strike from Ben Whitfield.
Those chances seemed to galvanise the hosts and they charged forward again on 18 minutes, only to see an effort from Pope blocked. Danny Pugh then picked out Whitfield inside the area and he prodded a strike just wide of the far post with the goalkeeper at full stretch.
Kelle Roos was then forced into his first save of the game on 25 minutes as Siriki Dembele took aim from 25 yards, but the ‘keeper responded well to beat it away from danger. Up the other end with half an hour played, Whitfield went close again for Vale as he directed a Harness cross inches wide.
With 39 minutes on the clock, Vale’s persistence paid off as Pope fired his side in front. Gunning floated in a cross that the goalkeeper spilled, the striker then got on the end of the loose ball to slide a finish into the back of the net.
Following the restart, it was the visitors who started the brighter of the two teams and they levelled proceedings in the 51st minute. Dembele did well to win Grimsby a corner, Sam Jones then got on the end of the resulting delivery to send a glancing header beyond Roos.
The Mariners almost found a second goal 12 minutes later after Dembele flicked a header across the face of goal, but Roos got down well to divert to deny the winger. However, with 67 minutes played, Dembele did find the net as he rounded the ‘keeper to hand Russell Slade’s men the lead.
Vale did respond immediately as they surged forward, but Nathan Smith could only find the gloves of McKeown with a downwards header. Substitute, Anthony de Freitas, almost capitalised on a knock-down from Gibbons inside the area on 75 minutes, but Nathan Clarke got in the way of his powerful strike.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Vale attempted to work an opening and McKeown was called into action in the 85th minute. Gibbons supplied a cross from the right, but Pope couldn’t steer his header beyond the goalkeeper. Worrall and de Freitas then went close in stoppage time, but they couldn’t find a leveller.
Port Vale: Roos, Denton, Kay ©, Smith, Gunning, Gibbons, Whitfield (Worrall 64), Pugh, Tonge (Turner 77), Harness (de Freitas 71), Pope.
Unused Substitutes: Hornby, Anderson, Davis, Barnett.
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Davies, Clarke ©, Collins, Dixon, Woolford, Berrett, Jones (Matt 80), Summerfield, Vernon (Rose 80), Dembele (Mills 89).
Unused Substitutes: Killip, Hooper, Osborne, Jaiyesimi.
Attendance: 5,849 (533 away).