Carlisle United were undone by a late, late sucker punch at Brunton Park on Saturday when Vale striker Tom Pope reacted quickly to sweep the ball into the back of the net moments after defender Troy Archibald-Henville had poked an excellent opening over the bar in what was a frantic ending to the game.
Both sides had chances in what was a stop-start game but it was the Cumbrians who were left with their heads in their hands as the 93rd minute strike left them with nothing to show from another disappointing afternoon.
United started the game on the front foot when Berrett spread the ball from left to right to set Amoo on a run. He angled into the area but his shot was blocked as he stepped inside to pull the trigger.
Berrett showed good feet moments later when he picked the ball up tight by the corner flag. A step over opened space for a cross and Lee Miller pulled off his marker before directing a header at the roof of the net. Chris Neal threw a hand up and his touch sent the ball onto the bar. The keeper was extremely relieved when the ricochet bounced away to safety via the top of his shoulder.
Defender Danny Livesey was next to go close as he jumped to meet the corner. He made a connection but the effort lacked power and the keeper was able to pick it up. Vale responded with a direct attacking move when Dodds slid in to win a crunching midfield challenge. Williamson burst through from deep and his curling shot whipped just over the bar as he tried to find the top corner.
The Cumbrians played some eye-catching football and a neat pass from Potts sent Amoo into the box. His low cross ran across the face of goal but there was nobody there to finish it off. James Berrett saw plenty of the ball and another raking pass was perfect for Townsend as he overlapped on the left. He cut back inside but the shot was weak and easy to save.
Port Vale should have taken the lead against the run of play when Richard Duffy produced a defence-splitting pass from just inside the Carlisle half. Tom Pope took a heavy touch and that made it easy for Gillespie as the mishit shot flew into his hands.
Chances became few and far between as the first half settled into a pattern of unforced errors and misplaced passes and it needed a set piece to raise spirits again when Miller was fouled with his back to goal. Conor Townsend stepped up and wheeled away in disappointment as he curled a dipping effort over the bar.
A heavy touch from Livesey on the edge of his own area invited Williamson to step in and he almost caught United on their heels when he spun and shot. Gillespie moved across and watched it rise away to safety.
Carlisle almost bagged a goal from nothing on the stroke of half time when Miller beat the keeper to lobbed ball into the box. His header looped high and landed frustratingly on the top of the net. David Amoo stayed forward and he brought the half to an end when ran across the back line at pace before drilling a shot over the bar.
The Valiants thought they’d grabbed the lead within 60 seconds of the second half restart when Dodds ran forward to control a low corner delivery. His touch took gave him time to turn and shoot and it needed a lunging dive from Danny Livesey to clear it off the line as Gillespie watched in desperation.
The home side struggled to create as the game became scrappy but Archibald-Henville was unlucky to see his header from a Townsend free kick deflect away to safety. Midfielder Paul Thirlwell had a volley from 22-yards which was always going wide and it was left to former-Pools man Leon McSweeney when he took matters into his own hands with a long range shot from a half cleared corner. It had plenty of conviction but it lacked direction.
That sparked a better spell for Carlisle and Symington went close with a long range rasper that skipped past the upright as it took a touch off the defender.
The introduction of Myrie-Williams and Tomlin breathed life into the Port Vale attack and it needed concentration and numbers to keep them at bay. Josh Gillies and Dave Symington found testing crosses as the game ramped up in intensity, and United missed a great chance to claim all three points right at the death when a Gillies corner eventually sat up in right front of the unmarked Troy Archibald-Henville, just six yards out from the target. He stabbed a toe at it and somehow poked it over the bar when it looked easier to score.
But it was Port Vale who stole the headlines when a direct move from the goal kick left Tom Pope with the simple task of clipping the ball into the back of the net as Gillespie ran from his line to try to make the block.
Today's Match Ball Sponsor - Happy 60th Birthday to Mr John Elliott!!
Vale - Pope (90)
United - Livesey (35)
Carlisle United - Gillespie, McSweeney, Livesey (Noble 87), Archibald-Henville, Townsend, Potts, Thirlwell, Berrett (Symington 71), Amoo, Robson (Gillies 71), Miller. Subs - Fleming, Beck, Lynch, Guy.
Port Vale - Neal, Robertson, Dickinson, Chilvers, Loft, Dodds (Mohamed 62), Pope, Williamson (Tomlin 62), Griffith, Duffy, Birchall (Myrie-Williams 63). Subs - Yates, Shuker, Lines, Hughes.
Referee - Mr Mark Brown
Attendance - 3,866 (407 away fans)