Rotherham United's automatic promotion push took a big dent after a 2-1 defeat at home to Port Vale.
After a level first half Vale stunned the Millers with two second half goals in quick succession through Craig Davies and Marc Richards, and despite a stunning strike by Josh Walker the away side hung on for maximum points.
The Millers struggled to break down an organised and resilient Vale outfit with 'keeper Chris Martin rarely called into action. In the first half chances were at a premium but after a slow start the Millers could have carved out an opening 13 minutes into the game. Marcus Marshall fed a pass through to Craig McAllister who broke into the channel but with Adam Le Fondre waiting his pull back was easily cut out.
The Millers were then forced into some frantic defending with Ian Sharps clearing a Sean Rigg cross at the near post with Vale players lurking behind him.
On 23 minutes Nicky Law advanced towards goal before feeding a trough ball to McAllister but the man on loan from Exeter couldn't get the ball out of his feet in time to shoot.
Marshall caused problems again on 30 minutes when he beat Kris Taylor before crossing towards McAllister but the Vale defence forced the ball behind for a corner.
Four minutes before the break Marshall was hauled down 25 yards from goal. Law took the resulting free-kick but his effort sailed over the bar.
On 43 minutes Rigg made progress into the area but his fierce shot on the angle was beaten out by Andy Warrington.
In stoppage time Louis Dodds danced down the right, his centre took a deflection off Law and the ball ran dangerously across the six yard box without anyone getting a touch.
Rotherham United 0 v 0 Port Vale
Four minutes into the second half and once again it was Marshall who was providing the Millers biggest threat. He surged down the right taking on Taylor but his left footed shot from 20 yards was well blocked by the Vale defence.
Just before the hour mark Vale took the lead. A slip by Pablo Mills allowed Marc Richards a run down the right, his cross was the easily tapped in by Craig Davies who was lurking six yards out.
Two minutes later it was 2-0. A cross towards the back post wasn't dealt with and this time it was Richards who was ready to pounce, steering the ball beyond Warrington leaving the Millers 'keeper with no chance.
On 66 minutes it should have been 3-0 when Richards again raced clear on goal but it was Warrington to the rescue for the Millers, beating Richards' powerful shot to safety.
With 17 minutes remaining Marshall threatened receiving the ball in the area but his shot was wide of the near post.
Ten minutes from time Rotherham were given a lifeline in spectacular style. Referee Mark Halsey, officiating his first game since returning from illness, awarded the Millers a free kick 25 yards from goal. From a central position Walker floated a perfect right footed strike over the wall and into the top corner to leave Martin grasping at thin air.
Sub Tom Pope was almost in for an equaliser with five minutes remaining but he was tackled at the point of shooting by Lee Collins.
The Millers came agonisingly close to an equaliser in the 90th minute. Sub Abdulai Bell-Baggie surged forward towards the edge of the box before unleashing a drive across goal and inches wide of the far post. Then deep into injury time a corner by Walker found the head of Gavin Gunning but on the line sub Mark Yates cleared to preserve Vale's lead.
Rotherham United 1 v 2 Port Vale
Rotherham: Warrington; Lynch, Sharps, Mills, Gunning, Marshall, Harrison, Walker, Law (Bell-Baggie 65), McAllister (Pope 60), Le Fondre.
Subs not used: Annerson, Fenton, Ellison, Brogan, Broughton.
Port Vale: Martin; Collins, McCombe, Owen, K.Taylor (Yates 90), Rigg, Griffiths, Fraser (Loft 88), Dodds, Richards, Davies (Haldane 74).
Subs not used: Anyon, R.Taylor, Richman, Molyneux.
The Millers Match report is brought to you in association with The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust