Vale finish 2022 ninth in Sky Bet League One after Michael Smith’s brace condemned the Valiants to defeat in their final match of the calendar year away at Sheffield Wednesday.
Despite a spirited performance by Vale at Hillsborough, a goal in each half from the Owls’ number 24 did the damage for Wednesday.
Smith opened the scoring for the Owls on the half-hour mark via the penalty spot, firing it into the bottom left-hand corner under Jack Stevens after Tom Conlon was penalised for handling in the area.
The hosts grabbed their second against the run of play, and it was Smith at the double, this time with a bending effort into the top right-hand corner from outside the box.
Darrell Clarke made four changes from the side that beat Morecambe on Boxing Day, with Connor Hall, James Wilson, Will Forrester, and Tom Pett all returning to the starting lineup in South Yorkshire.
The first chance of the match fell to opposition captain Barry Bannan, but after giving himself space in the penalty area, his shot flew over the bar.
Gavin Massey, the Boxing Day hero, was the first to test Cameron Dawson when a free kick was flicked on to him inside the area, and his low-driven strike was held on to by the hosts’ keeper.
Wednesday thought they were about to take the lead in the 19th minute on the counterattack, however, Forrester did brilliantly well to get back and get his body in the way of a Calum Paterson effort that was goal bound.
Minutes after going behind Ellis Harrison was sent through on goal by Wilson, but our number 22 couldn’t quite keep his low-driven strike on target.
Vale caused the hosts many problems on the counterattack in the first half, and in the 42nd minute, James Wilson curled an effort just wide of the post from the edge of the area after a fast break.
Harrison came closest to an equalizer for the Valiants when his effort from close range went just over the bar after a lovely delivery from substitute Sammy Robinson.
Sheffield Wednesday | Dawson, Palmer, Bannan (26’ Vaulks), Paterson, Byers (90’ Windass), Dele-Bashiru, Johnson, Smith, James, McGuinness, Mighten (71’ Hunt)
Unused Subs | Stockdale, Wilks, Adeniran, Famewo
Port Vale | Stevens, Jones, Hall, Smith, Garrity, Wilson (55’ Butterworth), Conlon, Forrester (46’ Robinson), Massey (74’ Politic), Harrison (74’ Odubeko), Pett (46’ Benning)
Unused Subs | Stone, Ojo,
Attendance | 26,021 (3,139 Valiants)