Stephen Dobbie’s late penalty was enough to see Fleetwood Town past 10-man Port Vale.
A Highbury thriller it wasn’t
Fleetwood struggled against a physical Vale side who closed down space at every opportunity.
Chances before the break were few and far between, the visitors with the best of the openings.
Mark Marshall caused panic in the Fleetwood ranks when Chris Maxwell spilled his stinging shot from 20 yards, the Fleetwood keeper scrambling to stop the loose ball crossing the line.
Then Gareth Evans surrendered possession all too easily down the Fleetwood right, Tom Pope heading Carl Dickinson’s cross narrowly over.
But before the break Graham Alexander’s men were handed a lift.
Jordan Slew lashed out at Danny Andrew, a straight red shown to the on-loan Blackburn forward.
They didn’t take full advantage, Vale’s muscle still the dominant feature of the game.
And the visitors could easily have snatched the lead when sloppy defending allowed Michael O’Connor room to cross, Pope’s header coming back off the woodwork.
The introduction of David Ball and development squad youngster Nick Haughton did breathe new life into Town.
And only a superb double save from Chris Neal kept things level, Stephen Dobbie the man denied, first with his head and then from the rebound, his right foot.
It was an inspired minute and a half for the Vale keeper, whose sliding save to deny Josh Morris compounded Fleetwood frustrations.
But the home side had the momentum and when David Ball tumbled under the challenge of Ryan McGivern they got the breakthrough.
Stephen Dobbie showed a cool head from the penalty spot to put the home side ahead.
The last 10 minutes was a frantic affair, Vale throwing the kitchen sink at Fleetwood who looked to hit the Valiants on the break.
Chris Birchall could have snatched an equaliser, his header flying wide, but Town hung on for a vital victory.