Mitch Clark admits that it was disappointing to fall to defeat at Bristol Rovers in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night, but he insists that the Vale squad can learn a lot from the Quarter-Final tie at the Memorial Stadium.
Ollie Clarke's first-half strike meant it was the hosts who went into the break with a one-goal lead, but Vale started the second half brightly as they searched for an equaliser. However, they were reduced to 10 men on 58 minutes when Tom Conlon was shown his second booking.
Vale then conceded two more goals in quick succession and Bristol Rovers were able to progress in routine fashion, but Clark believes he and his teammates did well to reach the last eight of the competition, and he is eager to use the experience to improve.
He said: "From our first game in the group stages our objective was to get to Wembley. That didn't come to fruition, but we are proud to get to the Quarter-Finals.
"It's a big lesson learned tonight against a League One team who played good football. We tried to play out from the back and it worked on the odd occasion, but we didn't create enough chances and we need to learn from that.
"You learn something new every game whether you're playing four at the back or five, but playing against a team in a higher division was a good experience for me.
"It's happened too many times this season where we've conceded early and that puts us on the back foot. They had a few more chances where they could've put the game to bed in the first half, so only being one down, we fancied ourselves in the second half."
Vale return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday afternoon as they welcome Steven Pressley's newly inherited Carlisle United side to Vale Park, and Clark is hopeful that he and his teammates can respond to the Checkatrade Trophy loss by picking up a positive result.
Last weekend's 1-0 win away at Crawley Town has given the Valiants something to build on as they look to pull away from the lower reaches of the division, but the Cumbrians will also be in confident mood having won six of their last seven fixtures.
Despite that, Clark is confident that Vale can come out on top if they are able to reach the same standards as the last league fixture, and he is eager to reward the supporters who continue to back the team.
He said: "We need the three points because we haven't been too great at home, but we had the win away last weekend and hopefully we can take the momentum into Saturday.
"You can't fault the support tonight. Obviously we didn't give them the result that they wanted, but we can't thank them enough for travelling."