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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 21:09 GMT
Vale slide into Division Two
Brian Horton
Disappointed Vale boss Brian Horton
Port Vale boss Brian Horton - in his first full season as manager - lost his proud record of never being relegated as a player or as a manager.

His side failed to produce a consistent sequence of results over the nine-month campaign and consequently paid the penalty.

Six home wins and just one away success told its own story. The Vale was not good enough to compete in the high profile First Division.

Relegation after six seasons in the division came at time when the stadium was very close to having its refurbishing completed.

The previous season's influx of deadline-day signings were not supplemented in the summer, so Vale kicked off with a squad that had just managed to secure its status for the Millennium season.

A Worthington Cup defeat to a Chester side which was later relegated to the Conference, was an early indication of what was to unfold.

One of the lowest gates ever for a televised First Division match - just 3,737 watched Vale play Grimsby.

Tommy Widdrington
Tommy Widdrington could save Port Vale

The 3-1 victory also marked a first goal for the unsettled Marcus Bent. Vale ended September with another win this time against Swindon but two points out of the next 21 left them bottom.

But hopes were raised on Bonfire Night when a goal from crowd favourite Tony Rougier gave them a crucial three points over Crewe.

The win saw them move out of the bottom three and go on what was to be their best run of results going seven league games without a defeat, including a long awaited first away win of the season at Sheffield United.

Vale were handed a plum FA Cup third round draw at Leeds but turned down the chance of reduced admission prices and paid for it as only 11,000 turned up to see United win 2-0. P> Vale fans were far from happy with the sale of Anthony Gardener who joined Spurs for 1m.

Following his departure, Vale's season crumbled and 10 games without a win left them deep in trouble, a position from which they never recovered.

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