Marcus Harness scored his second Port Vale goal as the Valiants secured a valuable away point at Colchester.
Manager Neil Aspin made two changes bringing in defender Joe Davis for the ill Tom Anderson and recalling winger Cristian Montano in place of Michael Tonge.
It was an evenly matched affair in the first-half with Vale having two good chances – an early opportunity for David Worrall and another for top scorer Tom Pope. Unfortunately for the visitors they were unable to take advantage.
It was another story for the home side as Szmodics broke clear and he a static beat Boot to put Colchester in front after 30 minutes. It was a poor goal for Vale to concede and the away side could have been two down minutes later only for Boot to produce a good save.
Aspin made a change at half-time bringing on Tyrone Barnett for Cristian Montano. The away side were still under pressure but came close to an equaliser when Antony Kay’s header rattled the bar on the hour mark. The Valiants had other chances but were unable to take them until midfielder Marcus Harness headed in sub Tyler Denton’s cross with fifteen minutes to go.
Almost immediately, the home side had a great chance to equalise but Szmodics hit the woodwork. Vale also had a chance through Antony Kay in the closing stages but it ended in a draw as the Valiants stretched their unbeaten run to three games.
It means Vale further stretched the gap between themselves and the drop zone and with two home games to come over the festive period, hopes will be high that Vale can lift themselves even higher up the table by the end of the year.
Vale: Boot, Davis, Smith, Gunning, Pugh, Worrall, Kay, Harness, Whitfield (Denton), Montano (Barnett), Pope
Subs: Lainton, Turner, Kelly, Tonge, Forrester
Attendance: 3,485 (151 away)