A peach of a free-kick from Tom Conlon, a solo goal from Devante Rodney and an upper echelon save from Scott Brown earned the Vale a hard-fought and well-deserved three points over promotion hopefuls Exeter City to make it back-to-back wins to start their league campaign.
After an opening five minutes in which the home side were on the front foot, the Grecians had a shout for a penalty and possible red card, if given, waved away as Leon Legge had his pocket picked and Ryan Bowman who went to ground after a hand on his shoulder
The following 10 minutes were very stop-start with both sides winning free-kicks but were not able to create any chances, in what was proving to be a cagey game that neither side could get a grip on.
Vale’s first sight of goal came on the 16 minute mark, when David Worrall curled a top class ball into the area which was attacked by Tom Conlon who had his header blocked before the ball failed to fall in a position to be hit for a rebound.
Conlon would get his chance to shine and he really did so in style in the 20th minute, Manny Oyeleke was brought down just outside the area and Conlon instantly displayed his fancy to have a crack at goal.
The Porthill Pirlo showed exactly why he’s heralded as such, curling the ball perfectly into the top-right corner of the goal with his left peg to give the Vale the lead with what will no doubt be one of the goals of the season.
Just five minutes later Conlon had a good opportunity to double his tally as the ball rebounded out to him 25-yards out but his reaction shot was not caught cleanly and flew wide of the mark.
The goal changed the game and put the Valiants on the front foot, with Devante Rodney continuing to work his way into the game, causing problems for the Exeter full-back with his pace and drives into the area, forcing a corner from a powerful shot at the half-hour point.
With just over five minutes left of the first-half the hosts had a brilliant opportunity to equalise as Bowman broke through to be one-on-one with Scott Brown who went to ground and produced a top tier save with his legs to keep Vale in the lead with his first involvement of the game.
The Vale kept pressing for that elusive second goal and it nearly came through Worrall in the final minutes of the half as Rodney found space down the left before cutting back and curling the ball to the back post where Worrall was unable to keep his difficult header down.
The second period got off to a slow start with very little action happening at either end of the field besides an apparent kick-out on Legge by Bowman that was missed by the officials.
As the game passed the hour mark, Tom Conlon sent a ball into the box that came back to the midfielder who headed it back into the danger area where Mark Cullen came inches from connecting with a close range volley that would’ve no doubt caused all kinds of trouble for Lewis Ward in the Exeter net.
10 minutes later the gaffer made a tactical change that saw Cristian Montano replace Mark Cullen with Rodney moving into the striker role, and it paid off almost instantly.
Conlon collected the ball and launched a counter-attack as he unleashed Rodney who knocked the ball past the last man and used his pace to drive towards the box where he poked the ball past Ward to double the Vale’s lead in style.
With just over 10 minutes remaining of the game, things nearly got a lot more intense for the Vale as they were let off as Ben Seymour failed to connect with a point-blank, unmarked header that would’ve no doubt have pulled the home side back into the game.
The Grecians’ efforts to grab a goal continued and in the 87th minute, Scott Brown made a world-class save to deny Seymour, as he somehow saved a powerful effort from well inside the 6-yard box, causing a collective gasp around the stadium in awe of the stop, earning the Vale their second consecutive league clean sheet.
Exeter City: Ward, Atangana (57’ Williams), McArdle, Taylor, Collins, Bowman, Randall, Jay (75’ Seymour), Page, Key (75’ Law), Dean
Unused Subs: Maxted, Sparkes, Parkes, Fisher
Port Vale: Brown, Fitzpatrick, Legge, Smith, Mills, Joyce, Oyeleke (62’ Whitehead), Conlon, Rodney (86’ Robinson), Worrall, Cullen (70’ Montano)
Unused Subs:, Visser, Crookes, Burgess, McKirdy