Pope completes Valiant turnaround ...
Carlisle United had only themselves to blame for coming away from Vale Park with nothing to show for their performance as they wasted a string of chances to put the game to bed before handing the initiative to Port Vale in what became a disappointing second half.
The Valiants fashioned the first chance of the day when Tom Pope bullied his way through a challenge in midfield to work his way through to the edge of the box. An exchange of passes with Birchall left him with half a sight of the target but his first time volley was always going high.
United survived a scare on six minutes when Pope flicked a long throw from the right towards the back post. Myrie-Williams rose to greet it but Chimbonda got just enough of a touch to deflect it over the bar. Vale stayed forward and a tackle on Williamson right on the edge of the box earned a free kick in a dangerous area. Myrie-Williams took it but he drilled his effort straight into the wall.
A flowing move down the right flank opened things up for United when Redmond and Amoo combined to work space for Miller. He shot on the run but Dickinson was there to make a timely challenge.
The home side responded with another long ball forward and Chantler had to concentrate as a punch from Pickford dropped out of the sky. The left back readjusted and made the clearance before Birchall could strike.
The Valiants should have taken the lead just after the quarter hour when Grimmer sent a wicked delivery into the box. Williamson was in acres of space but he somehow sent his free header, from just 10 yards out, over the target.
United had to deal with a string of crosses and long throws as Vale turned up the heat and they were able to relive the pressure when Williams lost his footing and scuffed a weak effort into Pickford's arms.
The Cumbrians had a good spell of pressure of their own when Berrett won a corner following an enterprising run but they couldn't find the touch in the box they needed as Vale defended in numbers. Liam Noble took matters into his own hands when he picked up the second ball but it took a bobble just as he shaped to shoot and it screwed off into the distance.
The visitors produced the best bit of football of the half just before the break when Berrett and Redmond carved a path to the byline with some intricate play. Miller called for the pull back and Neal had to dive low to make the save at his near post.
Carlisle capitalised on their good spell of pressure when Griffith chopped Redmond to the floor on the right hand edge of the box. Berrett whipped a lovely ball to the back stick and Courtney Meppen-Walter bagged his first career goal with a thundering header as he shrugged off his marker and made it his own.
Vale came out for the second half in determined mood and a long ball forward brought a corner as Chimbonda stopped Birchall in his tracks. Myrie-Williams delivered the set piece and Pickford did well to come through the bodies and punch it away.
United responded with another swift passing move which eventually found Miller with his back to goal. He played it across the face of goal and Potts was disappointed when he drilled the lay off over the bar.
The Cumbrians looked the more dangerous and David Amoo turned his man inside out as he skipped down the wing. The low cross sat up for Redmond and Neal did well to make a block as it flew through legs at his bottom corner.
And they went close again moments later when Meppen-Walter nodded a Redmond free kick back into the mix. Noble called for it but Neal was the home hero once more as he spread himself to block with his legs.
Carlisle were made to pay for their missed chances when a long ball forward held in the wind for Pope to chase. He clipped it inside and Ben Williamson did the rest as he dipped a shoulder and squeezed his shot past Pickford and into the bottom corner.
Home tails were up and United struggled to clear a Myrie-Williams corner as it bounced around in the box. The wide man called it for it again and the game was turned on its head as his inswinger found the prolific Tom Pope on the move. He made it 12 for the season with an unstoppable close range header.
Carlisle were stung but they regrouped and pushed for an equaliser with Noble and Potts both pulling the trigger from distance as the Vale back line stayed tight.
Vale thought they'd wrapped things up on 77 minutes when a Birchall cross found Pope at the back post. His header had goal written all over it until Pickford intervened with an unbelievable one-handed save.
Miller and Potts both took their eye off the ball within moments of each other on the edge of the Valiants' box and both efforts had the same end result as they flew disappointingly into the stands.
Tom Pope poked a hopeful shot at Pickford as he latched onto another long ball over the top and the Valiants were happy to allow the clock to tick down as they ended a run of three straight defeats to claim an important three points as the end of season run-in continues to gather pace.
Vale - Williamson (57), Pope (60)
United - Meppen-Walter (39)
Port Vale - Neal, Robertson, Dickinson, Loft, Myrie-Williams, Pope, Williamson (Knott 86), Grimmer, Griffith, Duffy, Birchall (Shuker 84). Subs - Johnson, Jones, Dodds, Lines, Hugill.
Carlisle United - Pickford, Symington, Chimbonda, Meppen-Walter, Chantler, Noble, Potts, Berrett (Guy 71), Amoo, Redmond (Byrne 63), Miller. Subs - Fleming, Edwards, Lynch, Brough, Guy, Novo.
Referee - Mr Scott Duncan
Attendance - 5,009 (370 away fans)