Having already secured mathematical safety in Sky Bet League Two, John Askey was delighted with how his players performed to pick up a respectable point away to high-flying MK Dons on Easter Monday.
Despite expecting a very difficult test against a Dons side who play expansive football, the manager was impressed with how Vale stood up to the test and he insists they more than merited the draw.
Askey believes that the mentality the players displayed shows plenty of positive signs ahead of the new season, although he was frustrated to allow the Dons to get back on level terms so quickly after opening the scoring.
He said: “I’m really pleased because we knew we were coming here without much to play for other than pride, but you wouldn’t have guessed that was the case with how the players performed.
“They worked really hard and I couldn’t have asked for any more from them. It bodes well for the future because if you’re going to MK Dons and getting a result, you can go anywhere and do the same.
“I was delighted with them because before the game we were perhaps a little fearful that we could get turned over, but that wasn’t how it panned out and it was an excellent point.
“It’s just disappointing that we got a bit sloppy after we went a goal up as we could’ve come away from the game with all three points.
“We responded well to giving a dubious penalty away and Scott Brown has been our saviour again. It could’ve been a whole lot different if he hadn’t had made that double save.
“You can say that about Scott all season with some of the stops he’s made - we’re lucky to have him. He didn’t have that much to do, and that situation was the doing of the referee, but he’s come up trumps again for us."
The gaffer also reserved praise for the goal scorer Tom Conlon, and he has been impressed with the midfielder over the last couple of months as he looks to cement his place in the starting line-up.
He also commended the way in which his side dealt with the threat of the MK Dons attack, particularly during the final few minutes of the game, and Askey was happy to see Nathan Smith recover from a below par showing against Stevenage last friday.
He said: “Some of our play was excellent and the goal that we scored was something we’ve worked on, keeping the ball and getting into good areas, and then the finish from Tom was great.
“Today’s goal was obviously not as spectacular as his one against Yeovil, but we know he has a good strike on him, and it was with his right foot as well.
“When we play how we are and he’s essentially playing as an inside forward, that gives him licence to get into the box more. He’s a good footballer with a great shot on him, plus he’s good in the air, so there’s no reason why he can’t score more frequently.
“When balls went into the box, Nathan Smith and Leon Legge got something on it. I was a little disappointed with Nathan on Friday, but he’s done really well overall for me since I came in and he showed his quality against a talented team today.”