Despite a dominant display, goals from Leon Legge and Cristian Montano were not enough to stop the Vale from falling to defeat against Leyton Orient at Vale Park.
The Vale started the game brightly, and the Valiants almost took a fourth minute lead, when David Worrall’s lay-off inside the box, set Tom Conlon up for a left-footed strike, which clipped the top of the bar and went over.
Vale kept up their relentless pressure and Worrall was able to get a shot away from close range that was deflected wide and out for a corner.
It didn’t take long for the Valiants’ positive start to pay off, when Worrall’s resulting corner was met by the head of returning skipper Leon Legge, whose powerful downward header was adjudged to have crossed the line by the linesman, to give Vale a 7th minute lead.
But Vale’s lead only lasted for three minutes as Orient top-scorer Danny Johnson, was on hand to head home the equaliser from inside the box, latching onto the end of Louis Dennis’ floated ball into the area.
As the game past the 20 minute mark, David Amoo pulled off a classy flick around his man on the wing but as he began to pull away went down, and had to receive treatment before being forced off the pitch with Cristian Montano replacing him.
In the 31st minute the visitors took the lead in chaotic style as Dennis’ shot found Danny Johnson one-on-one before Nathan Smith got back to make an excellent sliding challenge, but Smith’s attempted clearance deflected off the front of David Fitzpatrick before looping over Brown’s head where Legge slid in to clear off the line but the ball then fell to the arriving Wilkinson who hammered it into the net from eight-yards out.
Vale almost responded in instant fashion, fizzing a ball across the face of goal, just out of the reach of Rodney at the back stick, with him having to receive brief treatment following his lunge.
It could easily have been three for The O’s soon after when James Brophy’s cross deflected off Wilkinson into the feet of an un-marked Johnson, who drilled the ball wide from 12-yards.
Vale nearly drew level with just three minutes left of the half when Montano went on a mazy run, beating four players to find a bit of space in the area but couldn’t hit the target from a difficult angle.
Vale started the second period the brighter of the two sides, with Manny Oyeleke using some brilliant skills to drive into the box where he went down under pressure from the defender but the referee saw no foul.
With five minutes played of the half, Legge nearly repeated his success from the first-half, rising highest from a David Worrall corner to meet the ball with a powerful header but this time it was wide of the mark.
The relentless pressure from Vale saw them come close yet again just minutes later, another Worrall corner causing problems with Legge again on the end of it, this time sending the ball back across goal with his chest where it fell to Rodney but his volley on the swivel from close range went wide.
Vale had corner after corner in the first 10 minutes of the second-half but couldn’t make them count and Orient broke away after a misplaced header by Legge, however, Nathan Smith got back to deny a shot from inside the area.
Controversy arose minutes later as Worrall looked to curl a cross into the box but it was blocked by a Orient defender’s outstretched arm right in front of the linesman but he failed to spot what would have been a Port Vale penalty.
The Valiants would not relent on the attack and came close yet again in the 65th minute as Montano did well down the flank before floating a cross towards Rodney whose header nearly fell to Worrall but was cleared at the last second.
Minutes later Montano and Oyeleke combined in sublime style, using fantastic footwork and flicks to complete a one-two in the box before a brilliant challenge denied Montano a shooting opportunity.
The constant pressure finally paid off with 75 minutes played as Montano picked up the ball just inside the opposition half, cut inside and from over 25-yards out curled an absolutely stunning shot into the top-right-hand corner of the net to give Vale a deserved equaliser.
Conlon then came very close to giving the Vale the lead straight after as his first-time shot from outside the box seemed destined for the bottom corner before colliding with Mark Cullen and Rodney had a half-volley from around the penalty spot blocked wide minutes later.
Against the run of play, confusion at the back saw Orient once again take the lead, as Vale failed to clear a corner, the ball ended up being lofted back towards the back post where Brophy was there to fire home from close range.
Port Vale: Brown, Clark, Legge, Smith, Fitzpatrick (75’ Pope), Joyce (70’ Cullen), Oyeleke, Conlon, Amoo (24’ Montano), Worrall, Rodney.
Unused Subs: Visser, Brisley, Burgess, Mills.
Leyton Orient: Vigouroux, Ling, Widdowson, Coulson, Happe, Cisse (83’ Wright), Wilkinson (62’ Sotiriou), McAnuff, Dennis (66’ Kyprianou),, Brophy, Johnson.
Unused Subs: Sargeant, Akinola, Dayton, Maguire-Drew.