A fourth consecutive win moves Vale up to 16th in the table with eyes on a top half finish. Clarke praised the reaction to achieve this upturn in form, with Theo Robinson’s early strike in the first half completing the double over Exeter this season.
The Valiants scored with their first attack of the game, Devante Rodney brought the ball forward and played it out wide to David Worrall whose shot was parried straight into the path of Robinson to stab home the only goal of the game.
Vale were in control for large spells of the game and limited the visitors to very little, if any, opportunities at goal. The defensive shape proved to be flexible throughout the contest, however the defence remained solid all game to secure another clean sheet and a big three points.
Clarke spoke on how big a win it was for the whole football club but was keen on looking ahead to the upcoming games, including an away trip to Harrogate Town on Easter Monday with a chance to climb further up the table.
“I’m really pleased for the football club, for the players, for the fans. It’s been a hell of a reaction in the last four games to get the four wins and now we can seriously start looking up the table.
“The boys once again have given me absolutely everything against a decent Exeter team and we’ve got a fantastic clean sheet there as well. I think we limited them to one shot on target which is great defensive work for the whole 11.”
Vale got off to the perfect start and Clarke was full of praise for the early attacking threat but felt improvements could be made in the final third.
“We were probably guilty of not being clinical enough in the final pass and the final opportunity to make it a little bit easier. Their keeper has pulled a worldie save off and with a little bit of the rub of the green maybe we get the second goal.
“They’ve always asked us questions, they’ve asked us loads of questions, different shapes, different personnel coming on for Exeter and the boys have come up with the answers today.”
Robinson notched his first league goal since the penalty he put away at Cambridge, and his manager was delighted for him after his tireless performances in the previous games were finally rewarded.
“I’m pleased for Theo, all I ever ask of my players is to give me absolutely everything without the ball and try to show them quality moments in games. You want centre forwards to score goals obviously but I think hard work gets you there, I think working hard gets centre forwards chances.
“When you’ve put the graft in that Theo’s done, and Dee (Rodney) Dee’s had an excellent game again for me today, you create chances for your team and you create chances for your teammates as well.”