Vale’s first home match of 2023 ended in defeat as Ephron Mason-Clark netted a brace to secure all three points for Peterborough United.
The 23-year-old forward netted twice in the second half to do the job for the visitors in front of the Sky cameras at a freezing Vale Park.
Darren Ferguson’s side broke the deadlock just over 10 minutes after the break, through Mason-Clark, when he nodded into an empty net.
The number 10 was never going to miss after Joe Ward’s cross from the right-hand side was headed back across goal by the Posh captain, Jonson Clarke-Harris, for Mason-Clark to finish.
Mason-Clark grabbed his second of the night eight minutes later with another close-range finish, tapping home Ward’s low cross from less than six yards out.
Darrell Clarke made four changes from the side that beat Forest Green Rovers on New Year’s Day, with Mipo Odubeko coming in to lead the line, and David Worrall making a return to the starting 11 after injury.
Vale had a big chance to open the scoring just eight minutes into the match, but Will Norris managed to produce a good save to stop Mal Benning from turning home Worrall’s cross.
Worrall was involved at the other end of the pitch 10 minutes later, producing a brilliant last-ditch tackle to prevent Mason-Clark from putting the visitors ahead after he got in behind the Vale defence.
The best chance of the first half fell to Mason-Clark in the 30th minute, but after racing through the Valiants back line, the forward dragged his effort wide from inside the area.
After the opening goal, the Posh gained control of the match, and in the 59th minute, they nearly made it two through Clarke-Harris, but his header went narrowly wide of the post.
Jack Stevens was forced into action to prevent the visitors from taking a three-goal lead with just under 20 minutes to go, tipping Kwame Poku’s long-range strike around the post.
Port Vale | Stevens, Cass, Jones (81’ Forrester), Smith, Worrall (65’ Robinson), Garrity, Benning, Massey, Odubeko, Pett (81’ Ojo), Butterworth (65’ Politic)
Unused Subs | Stone, Holden, Agyakwa
Peterborough United | Norris, Butler, Edwards, Kent, Taylor, Clarke-Harris, Mason-Clark, Poku (81’ Burrows), Thompson, Kyprianou, Ward
Unused Subs | Knight, Marriott, Ogbeta, Jones, Thompson, Blackmore
Attendance | 5,109 (239 away)