Sean Rigg’s seventh goal of the season came too late as Port Vale lost their first game of the new year.
Visitors Cheltenham Town won thanks to second-half goals from Alan Bennett and substitute Brian Smikle. Rigg’s goal ensured the visitors had an uncomfortable final twelve minutes, but Town ultimately ran out comfortable winners.
Micky Adams made one change with Marc Richards starting in place of Guy Madjo.
An even opening 15 minutes saw half-chances for Richards and Loft as Cheltenham’s defence looked a little fragile in the opening stages.
The Valiants suffered an early blow as Taylor was forced off but his replacement Rigg immediately impressed with some good balls to Richards, who was looking dangerous upfront. Nevertheless, it finished goalless in the first period.
In the second-half, the dangerous Duffy forced a save out of Tomlinson on the hour mark and minutes later the visitors took the lead through defender Alan Bennett.
Vale retaliated almost immediately and Sean Rigg came close to scoring an equaliser only to mis-kick. But Cheltenham could have doubled their lead as Smikle hit the woodwork.
And the visitors wrapped up all three points when substitute Smikle’s deflected shot beat Tomlinson with eighteen minutes to go.
Vale came back into the match with twelve minutes to go as sub Sean Rigg scored his seventh goal of the season. But it was too little, too late for Vale to secure a share of the points.
The result leaves Vale six places below the play-off places and facing an uncertain 2012.
The match was marked by mass demonstrations against the board and many fans will feel that performances on the pitch will only improve once there has been a clean sweep of the boardroom and a new, untainted regime is installed.
Vale: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Owen (Williamson), Collins, Myrie-Williams, Griffith, Loft, Taylor (Rigg), Pope (Madjo), Richards
Subs: Dodds, McDonald