John Askey tasted defeat in his first game as Port Vale boss on Saturday afternoon, with David Amoo's fortuitous first-half strike proving to be the decider as Cambridge United took all three points at the Abbey Stadium.
It was Vale who created the first shooting opportunity of the game after six minutes, but Antony Kay could only fire his distant strike over the crossbar following some patient build-up play. Kay then tried his luck once more two minutes later, but Tom Pope was on hand to divert it towards goal from close range, only to be denied by Dimitar Mitov who got down well.
As both sides battled to contend with the swirling wind around the Abbey Stadium, Cambridge looked to cause problems with deliveries from wide areas, and they almost took the lead with a quarter of an hour played. Jevani Brown’s cross was powered on target via the head of Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, but Scott Brown came to Vale’s rescue with a stunning reaction save.
The Valiants’ goalkeeper couldn’t do much about the opening goal of the afternoon on 19 minutes. however, as Amoo found the net via a deflection. Having cut inside onto his left foot, the tricky winger took aim from 25 yards and it ended up ricocheting off a defender before beating Brown to give the hosts the lead.
Following their goal, Cambridge seemed to grow in confidence and the Vale defence were forced into plenty of rear-guard action, but they stood firm to soak up a period of pressure. Hepburn-Murphy did attempt to shape one into the far corner from the corner of the area on 34 minutes, but his strike flew high and wide.
Mark Harris had a chance to level proceedings two minutes from time at the end of the first half, but the striker could only sting the palms of Mitov with a low effort from a tight angle. That proved to be the final action of the opening 45 minutes, and Vale were left with a one-goal deficit to chase after the break.
Vale almost found a breakthrough on 57 minutes as James Gibbons whipped in a cross towards the front post. Luke Hannant did well to peel away from his marker and poke the ball on target, but the home goalkeeper was on hand to keep it out with a sprawling stop.
Cristian Montano was introduced as a substitute and he almost made an immediate impact when he chested the ball down to Pope on 74 minutes, but the striker was unable to keep his volley down and it rose above the bar. Mitch Clark was at the centre of the action soon afterwards as he crossed to Pope who teed up Luke Hannant, but his viscious drive flew inches wide with Mitov at full stretch.
With just six minutes left to play, Antony Kay almost conjured up a piece of magic to earn Vale a point, but his pile driver of a half-volley was clawed away from the top corner by Mitov who acrobatically tipped it over. Cambridge then held on for the final moments, meaning the Valiants suffered their first away defeat for seven games in Sky Bet League Two.
Cambridge United: Dimitar Mitov, Bradley Halliday, Jake Carroll, George Taft, Greg Taylor, Gary Deegan, David Amoo (Jake Doyle-Hayes 80’), Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (Reggie Lambe 67’), Jabo Ibehre (Alex Jones 67’), George Maris, Jevani Brown.
Unused Substitutes: Kevin Pilkington, Harrison Dunk, Harry Darling, Hayden Coulson.
Port Vale: Scott Brown, James Gibbons (Ben Whitfield 86’), Luke Joyce, Antony Kay, Tom Pope ©, Luke Hannant, Connell Rawlinson, Adam Crookes, Nathan Smith, Mark Harris (Cristian Montano 71’), Mitch Clark.
Unused Substitutes: Sam Hornby, Leon Legge, David Worrall, Tom Conlon, Dan Turner.
Attendance: 4,193 (311 away).