Danny Pugh opened the scoring and was then sent-off but it was sub Ben Whitfield who was the hero as his late winner earned Vale’s ten men a vital home win over struggling Chesterfield.
Manager Neil Aspin made two changes bringing back experienced duo Michael Tonge and Tom Pope in place of Whitfield and Forrester.
The game got off to a controversial start as Luke Hannant was felled by Chesterfield full-back Barry in a challenge that could have been a red card but was deemed a yellow. It was Hannant’s fellow winger David Worrall who then came to the fore as Vale forced a succession of early chances.
Chesterfield had chances on the break but Vale were in charge and Tyrone Barnett should have opened the scoring when he struck the bar. However, as the break approached it was an unlikely figure which gave the lead as Danny Pugh diverted in Worrall’s effort on 45 minutes. But just moments later the veteran midfielder was dismissed for a sliding challenge and Vale finished the first-half a man down.
Chesterfield’s man advantage paid off early in the second-half as they equalised through Reed’s free-kick on 56 minutes. Vale had chances for sub Ben Whitfield and Tom Pope but the visitors went even closer as Dennis’ attempt hit the bar.
As the game entered the final quarter of an hour, sub Ben Whitfield controlled a long ball from Ryan Boot and drove the ball home to put the Valiants back in front with a great finish.
It was enough to earn Vale a vital victory, their first of 2018 and one that probably secures their League place for next season. Phew!
Vale: Boot, Raglan, Smith, Howkins, Montano, Worrall (Harness), Tonge (Kay), Pugh, Hannant, Barnett (Whitfield), Pope
Subs: Hornby, Davis, Gibbons, Turner