Town’s unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of Port Vale this afternoon as goals either side of half-time from David Worrall and James Wilson sealed a 2-0 win at Vale Park.
It was an afternoon to forget for Town who lost both Alex Pattison and Lewis Page through injury as well seeing Jack Diamond sent off on the stroke of half-time.
Despite the occasional half-chance that came their way Town couldn’t find a way back into the game with the home side ultimately easing to their first home win of the season.
Unsurprisingly, Simon Weaver named the same line-up that started the game against Newport with Aaron Martin coming in for Will Smith on the bench. For the hosts Darrell Clarke made two changes, with James Gibbons and Wilson replacing Mal Benning and the suspended Devante Rodney.
The hosts had the first opportunity of note when a long ball forward released James Gibbons – making his first
start of the season – down the left and Rory McArdle had to be on hand to clear the danger.
After sustaining a cut to the head in the opening minute Pattison’s afternoon was curtailed early with him being replaced by Simon Power with George Thomson moving into a central role.
Former Town player Dan Jones then delivered one of his trademark long throws which was met by Jamie Proctor who should have done better than blaze the effort well over the bar.
Jack Diamond was booked on 12 minutes following a challenge on David Worrall.
Vale had started the better of the two sides in the opening stages and a foray from James Wilson resulted in pinball in the Town defence that forced Jack Muldoon to scramble clear.
And their early play was rewarded midway through the half when Worrall found himself in space to pounce on a clearance from the Town defence to hit home from fully 25 yards out.
Town responded immediately by forcing a corner from which Luke Armstrong headed narrowly over to register their first effort on goal of the game.
Worrall then almost doubled the home lead when his close range strike was cleared by Mark Oxley and Town were clinging on as the half wore on.
Page then found himself in the book for pulling back Worrall, with the Town full-back injuring himself in the process and was replaced by Ryan Fallowfield.
On the stroke of half-time, Diamond received his marching orders after receiving his second yellow of the day for a challenge on Lucas Covolan to leave Weaver and Town with plenty of work to do at the break.
The dismissal of Diamond forced Weaver into a switch at half-time with Lloyd Kerry coming on for Simon Power to bolster the centre of midfield to register his 200th appearance in a Town shirt.
But no sooner had the second half got underway than Town were further behind. Wilson cleverly cut in from the Town left to curl a shot from just inside the area beyond Oxley to double the lead.
A well-worked move between Josh Falkingham and Thomson offered Town a glimmer when Thomson’s resulting cross found its way to McArdle but his effort was thwarted.
With chances hard to come by Connor Hall then had a golden opportunity from a Thomson corner after the ball had been headed back across goal but he couldn’t keep his effort on target from six yards out.
Weaver rolled the dice for the final time on 66 minutes when he introduced Aaron Martin for Armstrong. The home side also made a double change with Jake Taylor and George Lloyd replacing Ben Garrity and the goalscorer Wilson.
Kerry then went into the book for a challenge on substitute Lloyd before Conlon suffered the same fate for the hosts moments later.
In pressing for a way back into the game Town were vulnerable to the counter and Benning let fly with a shot with little over ten minutes remaining that was goal bound before deflecting wide off one of his teammates.
Oxley then prevented a heavier defeat with a fantastic point blank save in stoppage time to foil Jamie Proctor.
Town have an immediate chance to get back to put things right this Tuesday when they are once again on their travels to face Crawley Town.
Port Vale: Covolan, Gibbons (Benning, 55), Jones, Smith, Worrall (Martin, 89), Garrity (Taylor, 70), Wilson (Lloyd, 66), Conlon, Proctor, Pett, Cass
Subs not used: Amoo, Politic, Stone.
Booked: Conlon (77)
Goals: Worrall (8), Wilson (46)
TOWN: Oxley, Burrell, Page (Fallowfield, 35), McArdle, Hall, Thomson, Falkingham, Pattison (Power, 9, Kerry, 45), Diamond, Muldoon, Armstrong (Martin, 66)
Subs not used: Cracknell, Martin, Orsi.
Booked: Diamond (11), Page (34), Kerry (77)
Sent off: Diamond (45)
Referee: Andrew Kitchen