AS LAST games go, Ian Craney certainly made it a memorable send off after helping Accrington Stanley to their first win of their League Two campaign.
The 26-year-old midfielder scored a goal and created one - a vital contribution as it led to lift off for the Reds before his move to League One Huddersfield Town this week.
Stanley needed a win after an indifferent show against Aldershot in the opener and manager John Coleman admitted that he was anxious to get the first points on the board as soon as possible.
And soon-to-leave Craney signed off in style, curling in Stanley’s first goal of the league campaign from a free kick with just one minute and 50 seconds on the clock and then his swift pass to Paul Mullin set the striker up for a classy second in the dying moments of the game.
"I obviously didn’t know it was going to be my last game on Saturday but, looking back, it was nice to sign off on a high note with a goal and a good performance," said Craney.
If Stanley can cope without him remains to be seen but they have done before - when he made the switch to Swansea in January 2007 - and Coleman will be calling on John Mullin or Jimmy Ryan to step in and show what they can do.
But Craney certainly impressed the 6,500 season ticket holders at Port Vale - how Stanley chairman Eric Whalley would dream of that - with his Vale Park show.
Again, like Wolves, the pitch was conducive to Accrington’s passing game but relegated Vale were tipped to bounce straight back into League One this season.
In truth, though, they offered little up front and one-time Stanley targets have had a habit of coming back to haunt Coleman - but this time one did him a favour.
Ex-Huddersfield defender John McCombe was chased by Coleman but chose Hereford instead before his switch to Vale.
And it was he, with a minute on the clock, who gave Paul Mullin a nudge in the back to lead to the free kick.
Enter dead ball specialist Craney - Stanley will miss that - and he curled his shot around the wall and into the bottom of the net for a perfect start to silence the noisy crowd.
It meant, though, there was a long time for the anxious Stanley fans at home who faced 88 minutes of nail-biting, hoping their side could hold on.
"I remember Liverpool scoring after four minutes in a cup quarter-final against Leeds through John Toshack and it was murder listening on the radio so I could imagine what our fans were going through back home," said Coleman.
Vale did then press around the area and passed the ball around well through ex-Reds target Luke Rodgers, Louis Dodds and Marc Richards.
But Stanley’s defence protected keeper Kenny Arthur who, after a busy day at Wolves the previous Tuesday, had a relatively relaxing afternoon.
Dodds had the best effort for Vale in the first half but fired across the goal and wide while Stanley carved out the more clear cut chances with Jamie Clarke having an effort deflected just wide.
Winger John Miles - recalled to the starting line-up - also caused problems, running at the Vale defence and he set up the nippy Clarke a couple of times as the Blackburn Rovers loan man terrorised the Vale defence, especially after the break.
And the 19-year-old was denied by an inch for the second game running as, on 65 minutes, he turned on the edge of the area and crashed a shot against the crossbar - he had hit the woodwork against Wolves.
The vociferous home crowd were getting increasingly restless as, although Port Vale were passing the ball around well, they weren’t getting anywhere near Stanley’s goal while the Reds continued to be a threat at the other end.
Craney’s long range blast was pushed around the post by keeper Joe Anyon while Clarke again came close to opening his Reds’ account after he raced into the area but a combination of Anyon and Chris Slater kept him out six yards from goal.
Left back Chris King belted a chance over the bar and then, with 90 minutes on the clock, Craney set up Paul Mullin and the striker made his way to the edge of the area before cleverly chipping Anyon to seal the points for the Reds.
"That second goal was worthy of winning any match," enthused Coleman as Paul Mullin made it two goals in two games.
"To close a game out like that was a great feeling.
"We had quite a good few away wins last season at places people didn’t expect us to win and we did it again.
"We came here with a bit of belief and tried to play the game in the right way.
"Port Vale are a good side and it is a feather in our cap to come here and win in front of a good crowd.
"We responded to the big pitch and passed the ball around well."
He admitted the early goal, while a bonus, also led to a serious tactical chat at the interval.
"I said at half-time that we couldn’t sit in and defend the lead and try and weather the storm as we would come unstuck.
"I said we needed to go and get another goal - or couple of goals - and Jamie Clarke has been unlucky with the strike which hit the crossbar and their keeper has made a world class save from Ian Craney. But the top hat was Paul Mullin’s little chip."
Coleman singled out a number of players for special mention.
"Jamie is still learning his trade and will not have played in a lot of competitive games.
"With no disrespect, he has played youth team and reserve games and there is probably not a lot at stake. Now when he takes to the park and, if he loses the ball, it could cost us points.
"I think he is growing into the responsibility. He is on loan until Christmas and we would like to keep him further but we will have to wait and see.
"Chris King has been the find of the season for me, though. He was recommended by Kenny McKenna from TNS and he has taken to league football like a duck to water.
"And John Miles played well. He was a threat all game and looked comfortable on the ball and retained possession well.
"It would have been nice for him, like Jamie, to just get a goal to get them up and running."