Some woeful finishing from Fleetwood and a controversial hand ball winner from Alex Jones saw Town throw away a one goal lead at Port Vale.
Uwe Rosler’s men dominated proceedings and created more than enough chances to cruise home but they paid the price for those missed chances as Port Vale fought back with two late goals to pinch all of the points and leapfrog Town in the League One table.
Devante Cole flicked the ball on for Long to open the scoring in the 52nd minute but two close range goals from substitute Rigino Cicila and Jones handled effort in the 74th and 86th minutes sealed victory for Bruno Riberio’s men.
The game was marred by a late off the ball incident with Chris Long shown a straight red and Anthony Grant picking up a second booking in the 89th minute.
Uwe Rosler made 11 changes to the side that lost 4-2 at Carlisle as they exited the Checkatrade Trophy on Wednesday night.
It was Town’s third game in six days and Rosler handed Elohor Godswill his first league start with Conor McLaughlin still away on international duty with Northern Ireland after netting his first goal for Michael O’Neill’s men against Azerbaijan last night.
Devante Cole joined Ash Hunter and Chris Long up front in a 4-3-3 formation.
It was a feisty opening at Vale Park with Town’s midfield maestro Jimmy Ryan on the end of a bad challenge from Jerome Thomas that eventually ended his game just before the half hour mark.
Ryan was in visible pain as he tried to shake off what looked like an injury to his right leg or foot but had to be withdrawn in the 27th minute with Rosler handing Manchester City youngster George Glendon his first ever league appearance.
It was a battle in the middle of the park for the majority of the game with Remie Streete’s deflected header Vale’s best effort as they won a number of set-pieces but failed to really test ex-keeper Neal.
Town created the best three chances of the half but their finishing was not up to scratch.
Firstly Chris Long pulled the ball back to Kyle Dempsey who’s first time effort was saved neatly by Neal’s replacement Jak Alnwick, then Grant’s ball from the opposite left flank was fired straight into a Vale defender by the usually clinical Long and Nathan Pond’s knock-down was miss-hit by the wasteful Cole from close range.
Like at Southport Godswill found himself in the book in the first half as he was shown a yellow card on his league debut for a foul on Thomas.
With Godswill on a yellow Rosler brought him off at half-time with Victor Nirennold slotting in at right back.
And Town took the lead just seven minutes into the half. Hunter kept the ball alive and Dempsey whipped the ball in from the right to Cole at the back post and his header was flicked on by poacher Long as Fleetwood continued their record of scoring in every league game.
Town should have put the game to be before the hour mark as Long, Hunter and Cole found themselves with just a defender and the keeper to beat but Long’s cross towards the unmarked duo was just ushered out by the only white shirt in the box.
And Cole wasted yet another opportunity as he somehow diverted the ball wide from just a couple of yards out.
Cole was released by Long but again he let another golden opportunity slide as he smashed the ball straight into a defender and was booked after running back and tripping the Port Vale player.
And Fleetwood paid the price for those missed opportunities as Port Vale levelled in the 74th minute.
Thomas’ cross was touched down by Ryan Taylor and Cicilia somehow beat the offside trap to poke the ball home.
Town created more chances to win the game as Ball’s angled effort beat Alnwick but was cleared off the line and then Amari’i Bell’s low effort was just batted away by the scrambling keeper.
Grant finally found a red shirt with one of his set-pieces as time edged away but as the delivery improved the heading went to pieces as Bolger nodded the ball way over.
And Town were punished once again as the lively Thomas galloped down the left wing again before putting the ball in for Jones to tap home after Neal kept out his initial close range effort.
Town and Vale found themselves with 10-men apiece after Anthony Grant and Chris Long were sent off for an off the ball incident as they tussled in the box while waiting for a set-piece.
Grant wasted what was Town’s last chance of the game in the seven minutes added time as after Dempsey was fouled just outside the box but Grant blasted the ball over the bar with Town losing a game they should have won.
Fleetwood: Neal, Godswill (Nirennold, 46), Bolger, Pond, Bell, Ryan (Glendon, 27), Dempsey, Grant, Hunter, Long, Cole (Ball, 79). Subs not used: Cairns, Eastham, Amadi-Holloway, Sowerby.
Port Vale: Alnwick, Streete, Kelly (Pereira, 82), Tavares, Paterson (Cicilia, 60), Thomas, Smith, Jones, Taylor, Grant, Hart (Geraldo Rosa, 66). Subs not used: Macintosch, Mbamba, Santos, De Freitas.
Referee: John Brooks
3890 (Fleetwood 112)