Vale’s lowest league attendance for four years saw the side finally keep a clean sheet and two goal skipper Doug Loft revive their play-off hopes.
Micky Adams made four changes – Adam Yates, Anthony Griffith, Dan Jones and Jordan Hugill coming in and Chris Robertson, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Billy Knott and Gavin Tomlin missing out. Robertson didn’t even make the bench.
In cold conditions, it was a largely even game until on the quarter hour mark a fine cross by Jones set up Doug Loft who converted for his sixth goal of the season.
Vale almost doubled their advantage shortly after, when Jordan Hugill raced onto a through-ball, though he couldn’t keep his effort down to test keeper Sam Walker.
Colchester’s best chance fell to Dominic Vose, who pulled off a fine piece of skill before curling a shot just wide of the far post.
On the stroke of half-time, Pope nearly doubled Vale’s lead but keeper Walker pulled off a fine save as Vale went into the break one goal to the good.
The visitors started the brighter in the early stages of the second-half but this time Vale’s defence stood firm. Instead, Doug Loft’s fine effort from a pass from Lines doubled his and Vale’s score for the night.
That goal clearly inspired Vale and Davis went close while Jordan Hugill shot over. A double substitution inspired the visitors to assert some pressure with Freddie Sears having several chances. But Sears and his fellow forwards were unable to beat Neal and his resilient defence who appeared determined to keep a clean sheet.
Vale made substitutes of their own with Jordan Hugill applauded off after being replaced by Williamson and Anthony Griffith, back to his best, replaced by Billy Knott following a heavy challenge.
Despite the good result, one disappointing aspect was the attendance of 3,734 which was Vale’s lowest crowd since 3,728 watched Vale take on Bradford City in 2010.
Vale: Neal, Yates, Grimmer, Davis, Dickinson, Griffith (Knott), Loft, Lines, Jones, Hugill (Williamson), Pope
Subs: Johnson, Birchall, Myrie-Williams, Tomlin, Dodds
Attendance: 3,734 (89 away)