Chris Neal’s return to the goalkeeping jersey was spoilt by Billy Sharp’s winner as Vale suffered a narrow defeat to Sheffield United.
Manager Rob Page made one change with Neal coming in to replace the injured Jak Alnwick. It was Neal’s first start of the season after recovering from injury.
It was a poor quality first-half with Vale surviving two Blades goals being ruled out for offside while captain Carl Dickinson also cleared off the line.
However, it only took the home side four minutes of the second period to finally find the net. A cross from the right eluded McGivern and striker Billy Sharp netted.
The goal sparked Sheffield into life and they had a couple of other chances to double their lead. Vale responded by bringing Hooper on for an off-the-pace Robinson and Kelly for Moore.
Vale countered with chances for Hooper and McGivern but neither could find the target. Rob Page’s final throw of the dice was bringing fit-again Louis Dodds on for AJ Leitch-Smith and Vale did press for an equaliser, especially in the final minutes, but sadly it was to no avail.
It was a disappointing result for the Valiants who now need to bounce back at home against Southend United if they are to revive their fading play-off hopes.
Vale: Neal, Purkiss, Duffy, McGivern, Dickinson, Grant, Foley, Moore (Kelly), Kennedy, Robinson (Hooper), Leitch-Smith (Dodds)
Subs: Boot, Streete, Brown, O’Connor