Vale's four-game unbeaten run in the league came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as they fell to a 1-0 defeat away to Mansfield Town.
On a cold day in at Field Mill, it was Vale who started the brighter out of the two teams and they could've taken the lead with an early opportunity. Tom Conlon found himself in space on the edge of the box in space, but despite the ball bouncing favourably for the midfielder, he hooked his effort wide.
Neil Aspin said earlier in the week that the Valiants were not coming to Mansfield to sit back, and they certainly weren't. The opening 15 minutes belonged to the Vale as they worked and attacked on the Stags' defence. Tom Pope thought he should've had a penalty after going to ground, appealing to the referee that Krystian Pearce had pulled him to the ground but Martin Coy was having none of it.
The early pressure from Vale was so nearly all undone after some great play by Mansfield striker CJ Hamilton. The striker surged forward, sold the Vale defence a dummy before unleashing an excellent strike across the face of goal which came crashing back off the post. A let off for the Vale.
That chance for the Stags seemed to give them a new lease of life, and the dominance had now switched in favour of the home team. Likewise with the Valiants at the start, Mansfield began to have the better of the possession and chances, and were rewarded for their persistance right before half time.
Mansfield took full advantage of the space down Vale's left hand side, and a clever ball through found CJ Hamilton on the edge of the box. The striker took the ball in his stride onto his left and buried the ball into the far corner with a clinical finish.
Two minutes into the second half and Mansfield could've doubled their lead, had it not been for a fantastic save from Scott Brown. CJ Hamilton riggled his way through and fired a ball across the face of goal and found Craig Davis, who's backheel from three yards out was somehow blocked out from Brown. The Stags found themselves with a near indentical chance five minutes later, but this time no one could get on the of the cross.
Things went from bad to worse for Vale. Manny Oyeleke, who had already been booked earlier in the game, outstretched his leg after losing possession close to his own box and brought down Neal Bishop. Referee Martin Coy with no hesistation showed Manny a second yellow. A blow for both Manny and Vale, as he will now miss next week's home fixture against Swindon so soon after returning from injury.
As the game entered the latter stages of the game, Vale still struggled to create anything that could trouble the Mansfield goalkeeper. Half chances arose, but the Valiants failed to take advantage of anything that cropped up.
The game could've been all wrapped up for the Stags. Scott Brown lost his footing as he went to boot the ball away which was pounced on by Danny Rose. Brown recovered to parry the ball away as Rose shot at goal, before Walker blasted the follow up over the bar.
Mansfield Town: Bobby Olejnik, Hayden White, Mal Benning, Matt Preston, Krystian Pearce, Neal Bishop, Jacob Mellis, Craig Davies (53' Danny Rose), Ryan Sweeney (76' Timi Elsnik), Tyler Walker (85' Jordan Graham), CJ Hamilton
UNUSED SUBS: Conrad Logan, Will Atkinson, Calum Butcher, Alistair Smith
Port Vale: Scott Brown, Connell Rawlinson, Leon Legge, Nathan Smith, Mitchell Clark, Luke Hannant, Manny Oyeleke, Luke Joyce, Tom Conlon (55' Louis Dodds), Ben Whitfield (55' Cristian Montano), Tom Pope
UNUSED SUBS: Sam Hornby, Antony Kay, Lewis Hardcastle, Scott Quigley, Theo Vassell