Port Vale made it three defeats in seven days after Micky Adams’ side recorded a poor home defeat to Chesterfield on Saturday.
Micky Adams made a host of changes after the JPT game against Bradford with Duffy, McDonald, Burge, James and Pope all returning. Somewhat surprisingly, new signing Calvin Andrew was preferred to Ben Williamson upfront. Meanwhile, there was no place for midfielder Sam Morsy, who started on Tuesday night, in the Vale squad.
The visitors included three former Valiants in Marc Richards, Sam Togwell and Jay O’Shea. Another former Vale player Danny Whitaker was on the bench.
A bright opening saw both sides have chances. Pope forced a save in the opening minutes as Vale pressed. But the visitors also created a number of chances for former Vale striker Marc Richards.
And Richards went closest to opening the scoring on the half-hour mark when his free-kick forced a decent save out of Chris Neal.
However, it was another former Valiant who broke the deadlock as Andrew lost the ball and Jay O’Shea broke clear to score on 37 minutes. To be honest, it was no more than Chesterfield deserved as they had had much the better of the opening chances.
In the second-half, O’Shea tested Neal with an outrageous long-range effort while Vale appealed in vain for a penalty as Myrie-Williams looked to be tripped.
Vale were struggling to make an impact and the home side made a double change with Shuker and Taylor in for James and Andrew. Taylor went to left-back, Loft to midfield and Shuker and Vincent to a more advanced positions supporting Tom Pope.
But shortly after the changes, Marc Richards set up Darwikwa for the visitors to double their lead on the hour mark and seal an away victory.
In another strange decision, the prolific Williamson was overlooked as Dodds became the final Vale substitute to come onto the pitch.
Vale continued to have half-chances as Pope forced Lee into a save and there were further chances for Vincent and Pope. It then looked like Pope had been pulled down in the box but the ref again refused to give a penalty.
But despite the huffing and puffing, Vale had looked lethargic and sluggish throughout the game as the majority of the 5,298 crowd endured a frustrating afternoon. Vale fans will be hoping this mini-slump will be corrected soon, hopefully with a much better performance against Cheltenham next week.
Vale: Neal, Duffy, McCombe, McDonald, Loft (Dodds), Myrie-Williams, Burge, James (Taylor), Vincent, Pope, Andrew (Shuker)
Subs: Johnson, Yates, Williamson, Chilvers