There was late drama at Vale Park as both sides were reduced to ten men and the Valiants grabbed a late winner to beat Fleetwood 2-1.
Bruno Ribeiro finally switched to two upfront as Martin Paterson partnered the returning Alex Jones.
In a reasonable first-half, Vale were guilty of laboured passing as they struggled to make in-ways. But there were signs of improvement over recent weeks with Jerome Thomas and Sam Kelly impressing on the wing and Anthony Grant returning to form.
Vale started the second period slowly and it was no surprise when Fleetwood took the lead after spurning a number of earlier chances including a couple of good saves from Alnwick and a goal-line clearance from Remie Streete. It prompted Vale to bring on Rigino Cicilia and the sub stabbed the ball home on 75 minutes to give Vale a chance.
The goal spurred Vale on and superb play from Jerome Thomas set up Alex Jones who scored past former Valiant Chris Neal at the second attempt.
There was still time for both teams to be reduced to ten men and Anthony Grant could face further punishment after trooping off with the matchball under his arm and then confronting the referee after the final whistle.
It was probably a lucky win for Vale. A more clinical opposition probably would have put the game out of sight, but there were at least promising signs. Cicilia’s goal was well deserved for his efforts as a sub, Alex Jones was again Vale’s biggest goalthreat and Jerome Thomas’ class showed throughout. There were also good defensive displays from Nathan Smith, Remie Streete and Jak Alnwick.
But perhaps most importantly of all, it was the three points that Vale wanted to end their recent poor league form.
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