Port Vale got their league form back on track with a 1-0 victory against struggling Notts County at Vale Park.
With a daunting trip down to Ford United in midweek, Vale needed to focus more on the league with their recent form seeing them slip from table-toppers to outside the play-offs.
They took the early initiative with Adrian Littlejohn and Steve McPhee cutting through the Notts midfield that showed a lack of pace and imagination. It was McPhee who came closest after he rounded the keeper from a George Pilkington ball but his weak shot was cleared by defender Steve Jenkins.
County pulled up their socks after almost half an hour and it was Darren Caskey who led by example when, after having a shot blocked in the box, a minute later he fired in a goalbound free-kick from 25 yards which tested keeper Jonathan Brain, who did well top stop it going into the top left corner of the net.
Neil Brisco summed up a poor first half for both sides when he attempted a volley from outside the area but, instead of giving Steve Mildenhall problems, he rocketed his shot out of the ground.
The Valiants finally broke the deadlock in the 56th minute to liven up a game that had lacked any real entertainment.
When Littlejohn challenged Mildenhall in the air to knock down the ball, McPhee avoided Ian Baraclough and Tony Barras on the line to squeeze the shot into the bottom left corner.
The Magpies became more and more frustrated with claims for a penalty turned down and several yellow cards being dished out.
McPhee seemed to be getting special attention from County with him receiving several heavy tackles, but Vale hung on even when substitute Paul Heffernan struck Brains' right post from range in the dying seconds.
Port Vale manager Brian Horton said: "It is a good three points. We are back to winning ways even though it wasn't a sparkling performance.
"There wasn't many chances, they played 4-4-2 and kept it tight which was difficult but we kept on going. I should think I will be naming the same eleven to face Ford in the week."