Port Vale’s battle against relegation suffered another blow as they lost to table-topping Sheffield United at Vale Park.
Michael Brown brought back Danny Pugh for Anthony De Freitas but his side suffered an early blow when the Blades took the lead after two minutes. It came from former Vale loanee Jay O’Shea whose low shot beat Beiz Mehmet from an acute angle.
The Valiants had chances for Kiko and JJ Hooper before the visitors doubled their lead after the half-hour mark when Leon Clarke vollyed home expertly. Vale also had to replace captain Ben Purkiss with rookie Billy Reeves.
Clarke almost had a second after 49 minutes when he raced clear after latching onto a poor back pass, but he was denied by Mehmet.
Vale had chances in the second period but Matt Done rounded off a perfect day for the visitors when he scored the third three minutes into stoppage time.
It was yet another desperately disappointing defeat for Vale who are now running out of games in their battle to beat the drop.