Tom Pope scored but loanee Jack Grimmer was stretchered off as Vale put on arguably their worst display of the season in losing to Crewe.
Micky Adams made one change with Jordan Hugill replacing Ben Williamson upfront. Vale had the first chance for captain Doug Loft but then a mistake at the back gave Aneke a good chance but he failed to take advantage.
However, on fifteen minutes, Crewe took the lead when a shot was cleared off the line but Mathias Pogba turned it in. It was a soft goal for Vale to concede. Crewe were on top after that with Pogba forcing Neal into a save and Aneke missing another good one-on-one chance. Really Crewe should have been at least two goals to the good at this stage as Vale struggled to get into the game.
That pressure forced Vale into a dramatic and somewhat controversial double change. Gavin Tomlin replaced Jordan Hugill and Jennison Myrie-Williams replaced Joe Davis, who had already been booked. Dickinson moved to centre-half, Jones to left-back and Loft to the left wing.
Vale did better after the change. A good cross from Loft saw Pope rattle the crossbar. Then Lines forced a save from the keeper after a good ball from Pope.
But as the game approached the half-way mark, Inman forced another good save from Neal. And moments later, Neal saved from Pogba as Crewe once again failed to capitalise on their possession by converting their chances. In the dying moments of a dramatic first-half, Garrett made a fine save from Tom Pope.
The second period started disastrously as Doug Loft caught Matt Tootle and Crewe were awarded a penalty. Chuks Aneke stepped up and sent Neal the wrong way to double their lead. To be honest, it was deserved as the visitors had had much the better of the game.
There was a further blow for Vale with loanee Jack Grimmer stretchered off and replaced by Billy Knott. We wish Grimmer all the best.
Anthony Griffith dropped back to defence and Aneke missed yet another chance to make it three for Crewe. But it was soon all over as Brad Inman’s shot made it 3-0 and game over. It was only what Crewe deserved for all their possession and chances as Vale simply failed to impress.
With fifteen minutes left, Pope tried a chip to pull one back only for Ben Garrett to claw it over the crossbar. But moments later, Tom Pope scored to pull one back for the Valiants. It was his thirteenth goal of the season and 54th of his Vale career.
However, Crewe could have made it four in the dying moments, only for Neal to pull off a fine save from Aneke.
It was a poor result for Vale who failed to make it a double over their local rivals and severely dented their chances of a late play-off push. In this form, it looks like a mid-table finish at best for the out-of-form Valiants.
Vale: Neal, Yates, Davis (Myrie-Williams), Grimmer (Knott), Dickinson, Loft, Griffith, Lines, Jones, Hugill (Tomlin), Pope
Subs: Johnson, Birchall, Dodds, Williamson
Attendance: 7,812 (1,174 away)