Nathan Smith scored his fourth of the season but to no avail as Port Vale suffered a potentially devastating away defeat to bottom club Coventry City on Tuesday evening.
Michael Brown originally made two changes with Billy Reeves and Olamide Shodipo coming into the side in place of Callum Guy and Anton Forrester. But JJ Hooper was replaced after the warm-up which meant Rigino Cicilia started upfront.
Vale had a lively start with Shodipo initially prominent with some encouraging wing play. However, the half soon settled into mediocrity in an opening half-hour of little quality.
Eventually, it was the home side who took the lead on 37 minutes when Kyel Reid scored with an excellent long-range shot. Minutes later, the home side doubled their lead when poor defending allowed Coventry another chance. Vale keeper Mehmet managed to block an initial shot only for Kwame Thomas to score from close range with a backheel.
The double strike left Vale with a mountain to climb in the second period after a terrible first-half performance.
Michael Brown made a change at the interval bringing on Sam Kelly for Reeves but it continued to be the home side who dominated play in the second period.
On the hour mark, Chris Eagles made way for Dan Turner and moments later Vale had their best chance of the half as Ryan Taylor went close. However, Coventry could easily have added more but Mehmet remained solid in the Vale goal.
With sixteen minutes to go, Vale were handed a potential lifeline as defender Nathan Smith headed home. The goal spurred the Valiants into life for the final fifteen minutes and Brown made his final change with Paulo Tavares coming on for the injured Purkiss. Vale piled on pressure in the closing minutes but even then the home side had a couple of breaks that could have sealed victory.
It was a bitterly disappointing result for the Valiants who had been second-best for much of the match. Even though the club has a lengthy injury list that now includes the likes of Jerome Thomas, Danny Pugh, Anton Forrester, JJ Hooper, Anthony De Freitas and Seb Amoros to name but a few, this was still an awful Vale away performance and one that only increases the pressure ahead of the home game against Milton Keynes.