There couldn’t have been three more contrasting visits to Vale Park for the Reds over the last three seasons.
In August 2008, the 6,500 Vale crowd could hardly believe their recently relegated side had lost 2-0 to Stanley as they looked to bounce straight back into League One.
Last year, Vale boss Micky Adams had placed all his players on the transfer list with Stanley the in-form side but the Reds needed a last-minute goal to salvage a 2-2 draw.
This season it was a battle of the unbeaten sides in League Two with both sides aiming to make a charge for promotion this season.
Unfortunately for the Reds though it was Vale who went to the top of the league and Stanley who lost their unbeaten record, and also conceded their first goals on their travels.
Manager John Coleman had said that keeping a clean sheet for his defence was like scoring a hat-trick for his forwards and the goals conceded must have hurt.
Much has been made of Vale frontline pair Marc Richards and Justin Richards, who had scored 11 goals between them prior to Saturday’s clash, and they showed their strengths.
The two worked well together in the first half with Marc making the breakthrough when Charlie Barnett failed to clear Stanley’s lines.
The ball eventually fell to Tommy Fraser who hooked it over his shoulder with Marc Richards volleying in from the edge of the area on 31 minutes.
It was hard to take but it had been coming. After unmarked defender Phil Edwards had missed a great chance with just one minute on the clock and the Reds had a penalty appeal turned down for a tug on Sean McConville, Vale had then taken charge.
The Reds struggled to get their passing game together and were unable to keep possession which meant that the pressure was piled on the Stanley defence which had previously only conceded one league goal.
They were uncharacteristically giving the ball away and Vale were bossing the midfield and continually bearing down on the Reds.
Coleman conceded that, at half-time, his time didn’t deserve anything from the half.
He admitted: "I thought we were poor in the first half. We made a great start and we could have scored a goal from Phil Edwards but he has put it over the bar unmarked from eight yards out and then we could and should have had a penalty but then we lost our way.
"We didn’t pass the ball like we could, sat too deep, didn’t defend anywhere near like we can, didn’t compete like we can and we went in one down even though our keeper hadn’t really made a save. I think they were value for their lead at half-time."
Sub striker Craig Lindfield admitted the Reds needed an interval blast in their bid to find their form from their previous seven league encounters.
"The gaffer had a few choice words at half-time, rallying round the troops and we came out and showed a great response and could have equalised within the first five minutes," said the former Macc man.
"I think Sean McConville put a great chance over the bar and unfortunately he didn’t have his shooting boots on, but he has done brilliant for us so you can’t criticise him.
"In the second half we were magnificent and we at least deserved a draw out of the game."
The Reds did come out a different team and should have got themselves back in with a shout of something from the encounter.
Immediately, a McConville corner found Edwards, who had had Stanley’s best two chances up to that point, but keeper Stuart Tomlinson caught it.
Unmarked McConville blasted over the bar in a decent position while Andy Parkinson could not get power behind a shot with the pressure on the Valiants defence.
The game could have gone either way – Justin Richards had a point-blank header from around six yards out which Reds stopper Ian Dunbavin got down quickly to save while Stanley striker Terry Gornell’s strike from outside area only found the goalie’s arms.
Both sides made changes – ex-Blackburn Rovers Jemal Johnson came on for Vale and Louis Dodds, who has scored against the Reds a couple of times in his career, was also introduced. Coleman put on Chris Turner and Lindfield and went 4-4-2 as he looked to take advantage of the Reds’ healthy possesision.
However, with eight minutes to go, a Turner free kick around the Vale penalty area was cleared to Johnson who broke with only Edwards behind the ball. Dodds timed his run to perfection and Johnson found him for Dodds to slot the ball past Dunbavin.
Coleman wasn’t happy: "I don’t think Port Vale deserved to lose the game but 2-0 puts a false reflection on the scoreline.
"We decided, after 10 minutes, to sit off them and when we did that we made Port Vale look a good side.
"In the second half, we passed the ball, we pressed and we got our defence out and we made them look an average side and we made ourselves look a good side. That’s the way we want play and how our players should play.
"We have got to learn from our mistakes – it is a harsh lesson and, as long as we don’t pay too high a price of how to learn to win games away from home, then it might not be too bad."