Captain Doug Loft’s long-range effort was in vain as the Vale were defeated 2-1 by Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
Micky Adams made one change with Ben Williamson partnering Tom Pope and Calvin Andrew replacing Ashley Vincent on the wing.
The Valiants again started slowly and poor defending by Darren Purse on ten minutes allowed Alfie Potter to open the scoring.
But Vale responded positively and good work from Jones and Pope set-up captain Loft to equalise with a long-range strike on the quarter-hour mark.
Andrew tried his luck with an overhead kick, but moments later Oxford looked to have good claims for a penalty only for the ref to wave the appeals away.
Both sides had chances in an entertaining first half and more hesitant defending, this time by McCombe almost gifted Oxford the lead on the break.
The end-to-end play continued in the second period with Capaldi troubling Vale’s defence with his long throws and free-kicks, while Rigg was looking lively against his former side.
But the Valiants were very much in the game and Burge rattled the crossbar with a well-judged chip on the hour mark. That sparked Vale into life as they dominated play for the next fifteen minutes.
But with fifteen minutes left, the home side countered and after Constable’s drive was deflected narrowly wide, Dean Smalley found the target to put Oxford ahead.
That goal lifted the home side in the closing stages and they were awarded a weak penalty after Burge challenged in the box. Sean Rigg stepped up but his spot-kick was saved by Chris Neal.
Despite that miss and a late chance for sub Dodds, the home side held on for their first home win since New Year’s Day as Vale once again dropped more points in their promotion push.
The one plus point for the Valiants was the impressive 800-plus away following who once again left the Kassam stadium disappointed.
Vale: Neal, Duffy, Jones, McCombe, Purse, Myrie-Williams, Loft, Burge (Morsy), Andrew (Hughes, Williamson (Dodds), Pope
Subs: Vincent, Yates, Shuker, Birchall