The Valiants conceded late goals in a 2-0 defeat as they took on unbeaten top of the league Exeter City.
Vale came into the game with a heavily depleted squad, with David Amoo, Tom Conlon, Callum Evans, Manny Oyeleke and James Gibbons all injured, causing Danny Pugh to appear on the bench for the first time this season.
The injuries saw Kieran Kennedy make his first league appearance for the Vale and Rhys Browne made his first start.
Vale had their first chance of the game in the third minute a Richie Bennett got on the end of a looping cross at the back post, but his volley was tame and easily saved.
The Valiants did not have much of the ball as the game rolled on for the first 10 minutes, but their defence was doing well to keep the Exeter attack at an arm’s length.
Exeter continued to apply pressure, but Nathan Smith and Leon Legge were able to keep the hosts to no more than corners for their efforts.
In the 14th minute, Jayden Richardson turned Adam Crookes with some great skill but his low ball into the box was again cleared by Smith.
15 minutes Jack Sparkes used some amazing footwork on the edge of the area and cut back onto his left foot, and unleashed a curling effort that was heading towards the top corner but Scott Brown made a beautiful save to deny the hosts a lead.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Vale were continuing to withstand the Exeter pressure, with Smith, Legge and Luke Joyce putting in standout performances as the game continued.
Ben Seymour had another opportunity to put his side in front, but dragged his effort from the edge of the box wide of Brown’s right post.
Exeter came extremely close to going ahead in the 25th minute when a corner was sent in, and Brown again made another brilliant save to deny a downwards header at the back post before the rebound fell to Tom Parkes whose volley hit Kennedy on the line keeping the game at 0-0.
Vale nearly responded soon after, as David Worrall curled a cross into the box and Smith had a backwards header just go over the bar.
With five minutes left in the half, Nicky Law found space on the edge of the box but his effort dipped over Brown’s crossbar.
The Valiants were able to see out their impressive defensive display for the remainder of the half and the two sides went in all square at half-time.
The second period started how the previous half had ended, with Vale withstanding the Exeter pressure and trying to hit them on the counter if the chance would arise.
Richie Bennett had another header loop over the bar in the 52nd minute as the Valiants looked to try and grab a goal.
With 10 minutes of the second-half gone, Exeter continued their intense push for an opening goal, but again the Vale were able to keep the hosts out.
In the 65th minute Exeter came close to going in front as a corner hit the side of Ryan Bowman and struck the post.
Exeter again came close with the Grecians having a thunderous hit heading towards goal but Smith fearlessly threw himself in front of the effort to block it out for a corner.
Soon after Brown was again called into action, making a brilliant save with his feet from close range to deny Bowman.
As 10 minutes were left of the game, Randell Williams dribbled into the box and cut inside before firing over the bar.
Just minutes later Exeter got the goal they’d been pushing for, Williams again striking towards goal, his effort moved and dipped and Brown saved but Bowman was able to react and head into the net.
With two minutes left on the clock, Exeter doubled their lead, as Lee Martin converted from close range, getting on the end of a low close to guarantee all three points.
Exeter City: Ward, Sweeney, Law, Bowman, Parkes, Richardson (62’ Williams), Moxey, Sparkes (86’ Martin), Taylor, Collins, Seymour (62’ Martin).
Unused Subs: Maxted, Woodman, Jay, Fisher.
Port Vale: Brown, Crookes, Joyce, Legge, Kennedy, Worrall, Montano, Smith, Taylor (82’ Cullen), Browne (65’ Lloyd), Bennett (77’ Pope).
Unused Subs: Maddison, Pugh, Burgess, Brisley.