Cristian Montano's fifth league goal of the season wasn't enough to prevent Port Vale slipping to a home defeat against Stevenage on Good Friday, with Emmanuel Sonupe's brace and strikes from Ilias Chair and Kurtis Guthrie proving to be enough for Dino Maamria's side who keep their slim play-off hopes alive in Sky Bet League Two.
Stevenage had the first opportunity of the game on three minutes after Mitch Clark was penalised for a foul on the edge of the area, but Guthrie could only find the side-netting despite shaping his effort over the wall.
Two minutes later, Vale were on the attack up the other end and they almost took the lead following a neat counter. Montano showed great pace down the left flank before sending in a cross towards David Worrall, but Paul Farman was on hand to make a sprawling save to keep his header out.
Boro’s goalkeeper had to be alert again with 11 minutes played as Tom Conlon attempted to chip him from the edge of the area, but he tipped the ball onto the bar and over. Stevenage then broke away and scored the first goal of the afternoon against the run of play almost immediately afterwards, with Sonupe finding the roof of the net from inside the box.
With both teams looking to impose themselves in the centre of midfield the game turned fairly scrappy, but a few half chances came and went as Conlon struck a free-kick wide for Vale before Guthrie forced Brown to parry a shot away from danger on 25 minutes.
Adam Crookes did well to burst down the left with five minutes to play until half-time and he managed to cut a pass back into the path of Conlon, only for the midfielder to see his powerful drive blocked by the outstretched leg of Scott Cuthbert.
The visitors perhaps should’ve doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage time, but Brown did well to deny Chair from close range. Guthrie was unmarked in a dangerous position and he was desperate to receive the ball, but the midfielder didn’t see him in time as Vale got away with one.
It took Stevenage just five minutes of the second half to stretch their winning margin to two goals, and it was Sonupe who found the net again. The winger received the ball 18 yards from goal before swivelling to curl an effort into the bottom corner beyond Brown who couldn’t quite get a fingertip on it.
Conlon registered another shot on target as he attempted to pull his side back into contention, but his distant strike was well held by Farman on 57 minutes. Danny Elliott was then introduced to add more firepower in the final third, and he looked lively with his first few touches, beating two Stevenage defenders with tidy footwork.
Another brilliant opening fell Vale’s way with 64 minutes played following some excellent play from Mitch Clark to drive beyond his opposing number. He drilled in a low cross which Montano was able to get under control, but the resulting effort was smartly saved by Farman who was in inspired form.
However, Montano was presented with another sighting of goal on 67 minutes and he expertly curled a finish beyond the reaches of the goalkeeper and into the far corner. Remarkably, Vale then had two chances to level straight from the restart, but Tom Pope’s initial header was saved before Montano’s follow-up was blocked.
Any momentum Vale had created was then halted when Ather Iontton went down with a nasty head injury with 20 minutes left to play, but following his treatment, John Askey’s men continued to throw men forward and the Stevenage defence were forced to drop deep in order to protect their lead.
Despite the late pressure from the hosts, it was Stevenage who scored again to seal all three points with just seven minutes left to play. Guthrie threaded a pass through to Chair who found some space inside the area, and he made no mistakes with the finish from 10 yards.
Guthrie wrapped up an emphatic victory for Stevenage five minutes into stoppage time as he raced away before firing a strike into the corner of the net, making it 4-1 to 'Boro' who made it three wins in succession.
Port Vale: Scott Brown, Cristian Montano, Luke Joyce, Leon Legge, David Worrall, Tom Pope ©, Adam Crookes, Nathan Smith, Tom Conlon (Mike Calveley 88’), Mitch Clark, Ben Whitfield (Danny Elliott 59’).
Unused Substitutes: Sam Hornby, Antony Kay, Ricky Miller, Connell Rawlinson, Theo Vassell.
Stevenage: Paul Farman, Luther Wildin, John Hunt (Luke Wilkinson 86’), Michael Timlin, Scott Cuthbert ©, Emmanuel Sonupe (Mark McKee 79’), Ilias Chair, Terence Vancooten, Arther Iontton (Joel Byrom 73’), Kurtis Guthrie, Ben Nugent.
Unused Substitutes: Oliver Byrne, Alex Revell, Jordan Gibson, Liam Smyth.
Attendance: 4,088 (99 away).