John McCombe’s fourth goal of the season was in vain as Vale’s ten men lost 2-1 to promotion chasing Torquay United at Plainmoor.
Micky Adams made one change with Anthony Griffith returning from suspension in place of Paul Marshall. Rookie centre-half Joe Davis kept his place in defence.
Vale were much the better side in the opening half and deserved lead at the half-time break.
The Valiants had taken the lead on the half-hour mark when John McCombe converted Chris Shuker’s cross for his fourth goal of the season and his third goal in the last eight games.
And Vale could have added to their lead as the home side looked decidedly lacklustre.
United thought they had the equaliser when the ball was cleared off the line but moments later Joe Davis was dismissed as he fouled Rene Howe in the penalty area. Howe made no mistake from the spot to level the scores.
Vale brought on striker Tom Pope to play as an emergency centre-half as the home side pressed for a winner.
But moments after Pope’s introduction, Torquay took the lead as Ryan Jarvis scored. And the home side nearly made it three with ten minutes remaining only for the ball to strike the woodwork. Then Vale repeated the trick as Williamson struck the crossbar with minutes remaining.
But Torquay hung on as Vale departed the West Country desperately unlucky not to take something from the game.
Vale: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Davis, Loft, Rigg (Pope), Griffith, Morsy, Shuker (Marshall), Dodds (Williamson), Richards
Subs: Roe, James