Antony Kay scored the decisive goal in the second half on Saturday afternoon as Port Vale secured three points at home to Lincoln City in Sky Bet League Two. The result lifts Neil Aspin's men to nine points above the bottom two going into the final three fixtures.
Vale created the first opportunity of the game after four minutes as Joe Davis found Tom Pope with a pinpoint cross, but the striker could only stoop to direct a header just wide under pressure from Luke Waterfall.
The positive start continued as Anton Forrester saw a low shot blocked on eight minutes before Luke Hannant reacted first to the loose ball, only to curl narrowly off target from 20 yards.
With the Valiants enjoying plenty of possession, it was Antony Kay who tried his luck next, but his distant effort flew over on 12 minutes. Matt Green then attempted to get a shot away up the other end almost immediately afterwards, but James Gibbons denied him with a perfectly timed sliding challenge.
Lincoln did go close to opening the scoring on 28 minutes, however, as Matt Rhead delivered an aerial ball from the left. Elliott Whitehouse then volleyed a strike towards goal, but it flew inches wide of the far post.
Four minutes later, the midfielder sent one over from close range at the second attempt following a Kay block. Vale could have found the net on the stroke of half-time, but a goalmouth scramble saw Nathan Smith and Pope both denied.
It took a while for either side to register an attempt after the restart, with Green almost picking out Anderson inside the area on 59 minutes, but he was unable to make contact with an outstretched leg. Lee Frecklington then powered one just wide from a volley 20 yards out.
With 63 minutes played, the deadlock was broken, and it was Vale who pulled themselves ahead. David Worrall provided the assist with a cross that found the head of Kay, and the midfielder glanced the ball over Ryan Allsop and into the top corner.
That goal gave the Valiants a lift and they began to look a real threat going forward, but Ben Whitfield could only fire wide from 25 yards after 71 minutes following a swift move. Eight minutes later, Green almost levelled proceedings with a deflected shot from outside the area, but Sam Hornby reacted superbly to divert it over the bar.
As the match entered its final stages, Lincoln attempted to bombard the Vale area with aerial balls, but the Valiants’ back line dealt with the danger well. Despite their being five minutes of additional time, the away side were unable to trouble Hornby and the Valiants held on for the win.
Port Vale: Hornby, Davis (Raglan 43), Smith, Howkins, Gibbons, Worrall, Kay, Tonge, Hannant, Forrester (Whitfield 58), Pope © (Barnett 90+4).
Unused Substitutes: Boot, Howe, Middleton, Turner.
Lincoln City: Allsop, Habergham, Whitehouse, Waterfall, Rhead (Palmer 65), Green, Bostwick, Frecklington (Williams 70), Eardley, Rowe (Anderson 52), Woodyard.
Unused Substitutes: Farman, Wharton, Pett, Wilson.
Attendance: 5,880 (1,492 away).