Match analysis: Aldershot 1 Port Vale 3
TEAMS chasing promotion can't always produce Champagne football.
Sometimes you just have to dig in, roll up your sleeves and win ugly.
• GALLERY: Match Action: Aldershot 1 Port Vale 3
It's the result that counts, and grinding out a victory when you're not at your fluent best is crucial for teams who want to stay at the top end of the table.
That was certainly the case in Hampshire, where it was the appalling conditions, rather than problems caused by Aldershot, which made the three points seem so valuable.
Boss Micky Adams said: "It wasn't one of our most spectacular displays, but we've done what we needed to do.
"We ground out a result in difficult conditions and we were worthy of the points.
"There wasn't a lot of great football played, but there was a lot of endeavour."
Adams was pleased to see his team score three times without the name 'Tom Pope' appearing on the scoresheet.
The striker has scored 20 already this season, but was the provider, with two assists, rather than the finisher.
"We had three different scorers and that's very pleasing," said Adams. "We can't always rely on Tom's goals.
"I thought their two central defenders marshalled him well, but if they're paying a lot of attention to him, it often leaves gaps for other people."
Adams went with the same team which beat Bristol Rovers so handsomely in midweek, though he was soon forced into a change.
The visitors had come under early pressure as the Shots, desperate to find form after winning just once at home all season, started brightly.
And just 13 minutes had elapsed when centre-half Clayton McDonald pulled up with a hamstring problem.
Liam Chilvers, who signed on loan from AFC Telford on Thursday, emerged from the bench to join John McCombe at the heart of the defence.
And he'd been on the pitch only four minutes when Vale took the initiative with their first meaningful attack.
Tom Pope's cute header gave strike partner Ben Williamson the chance to gallop down the left side of the penalty area and his shot beyond advancing keeper Jamie Young bounced into the net off the far post.
Aldershot had scored just twice in nine games at home, so fans could have been forgiven for thinking Williamson's sixth goal of the season would be enough.
The Valiants almost doubled the lead soon after when Vincent presented Ryan Burge with a chance, but the midfielder's powerful effort from the edge of the box was just too high.
Dean Holdsworth's strugglers pressed forward in reply, with winger Kieron Cadogan, on loan from Crystal Palace, looking lively down the right.
It was from his delivery that the home side levelled matters after 29 minutes.
He produced a high, hanging cross that seemed to hold up in the wind, and striker Dani Lopez leapt above Richard Duffy to head past Chris Neal.
Neal was soon in the action again thanks to an incident which could have proved costly.
The goalkeeper tangled with Danny Hylton during an Aldershot attack and, as play continued, seemed to push the striker in the chest.
In truth, there wasn't much in it, but Hylton rolled around as if he had been shot and it was perhaps lucky that neither referee Mick Russell, nor his assistant, saw what had happened.
It must have been a particular relief to Adams, who had left reserve keeper Sam Johnson off the bench.
The conditions were doing neither side any favours, though Pope's header from a Burge corner was well saved on the line by Young as Vale pressed before half-time.
Refreshed, no doubt, by the chance to dry off during the break, the visitors started the second half on the front foot and were soon back ahead.
Duffy crossed from the right and Pope rose to thump in a header which was clawed out by Young only as far as Burge, who rammed home the rebound from close range for his second goal in as many matches.
As Aldershot looked for a way back, McCombe was booked for a horrible-looking lunge on the edge of his own area and must have been relieved to see Danny Rose's free-kick curl just wide.
Vale were now in the ascendancy and Vincent wasn't far away from making it three with a shot from 20 yards following good work by Williamson.
You did, however, sense that the Valiants needed another goal to kill the game – and it duly came after 76 minutes.
Jennison Myrie-Williams's most notable contribution had been the pink and black boots he started the game in, and the turquoise and orange numbers which he came out wearing after the break.
But defenders ignore the livewire winger at their peril and he at last burst into life with devastating effect.
Quick feet and a turn of pace saw him surge into the penalty area on the left and that was too much for Troy Brown, whose clumsy attempt at a tackle was deemed a foul.
Myrie-Williams picked himself up to plant a confident penalty to the keeper's left.
The rain became even heavier during a final 10 minutes in which Vale kept things simple and suffered no further alarms.
Not pretty, but job done.
It's FA Cup action next as Vale travel to Adams's former club Sheffield United in Saturday's second round.
As a lifelong fan of the club, to win ugly there would be just beautiful for him.