Town suffered a costly 3-2 defeat away at Port Vale in the Sky Bet League One earlier this afternoon.
There were chances galore in the first-half as the two sides attempted to exchange blow after blow with the game played at breakneck speed.
After threatening on numerous occasions, the Reds eventually made the breakthrough towards the end of the first-half thanks to a Nicky Ajose strike, but that was quickly cancelled out by Chris Eagles’ close-range effort with nothing separating the two sides at half-time.
Vale nudged themselves ahead shortly after the interval courtesy of JJ Hooper’s neat finish, and they could have extended their lead minutes later but Anton Forrester missed from the penalty spot.
They did add a third courtesy of Hooper’s superb free-kick after the Robins were reduced to ten men, while Luke Norris scored what proved to be a consolation with the last kick of the game.
Town opted to make two changes with Nicky Ajose and Charlie Colkett both shaking off knocks to take their place in the Starting XI.
Anton Rodgers and Luke Norris dropped to the bench with the Reds once again lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, a system that had served them so well in recent weeks.
It was yet another big game for the two sides at the bottom of the table and the Robins had to weather an early storm as Vale pumped a string of early balls into the box.
But Town soon regained their composure and they carved out a couple of early chances with Ben Gladwin skewing an effort wide following good work by both Nicky Ajose and Charlie Colkett, before James Brophy flashed a shot inches past the post after latching onto Brad Barry’s pinpoint cutback.
Both sides were bombing forward at every opportunity but it was the Reds who created the better of the chances in the opening exchanges.
Gladwin embarked on a powerful run and brushed off a challenge before cutting in and letting fly, but his drive was blocked by a Vale defender.
And the Reds went even closer moments later after Brophy played in Nicky Ajose, but the striker could only lash wide.
Sam Foley was then off-target for the hosts with the game still being played at a frantic pace by both teams.
Chances continued to come as Brophy curled a strike over the bar before JJ Hooper skewed high and wide down the other end of the pitch.
It was then Vale’s turn to have a spell of pressure but they too were unable to put away their chances.
Olmide Shodipo produced a smart piece of skill to get away from his man but he was unable to keep his shot down, before Lawrence Vigouroux got down well to smother Hooper’s clipped effort.
However, the first goal of the game eventually arrived and it was Town who got it thanks to Ajose.
After soaking up a spell of pressure, the Reds turned the screw and Ajose was in the right place at the right time to fire his side into the lead.
But that joy proved to be short-lived and Vale hauled themselves level just a minute later thanks to Chris Eagles, who tucked home from close-range after Vigouroux had denied Hooper.
Town carved out the first chance of the second-half as Charlie Colkett hammered an effort over the bar.
But it was the home side who delivered the next blow with Hooper flicking home Kiko’s clever free-kick at the near post.
Vale were then awarded a penalty moments after that goal with Rossi-Branco adjudged to have fouled Eagles, but Anton Forrester could only blast the resulting spot-kick over.
Vigouroux then had to be at his best to somehow tip Sam Foley’s audacious lob from distance over the bar with Vale well on top.
Hooper warmed the palms of Vigouroux with a tame effort with Town struggling to rediscover their first-half form.
With time ticking away, the Reds opted to make a double change with Luke Norris and John Goddard replacing Nicky Ajose and Ben Gladwin respectively.
Both Norris and Obika saw their shots charged down before Barry was shown a straight red card for bringing down Hooper just outside the area.
Hooper dispatched the resulting free-kick and Norris pulled a goal back in the dying seconds, but it proved to be too little too late.
TEAMS AND STATS:
SCORERS - Nicky Ajose (34), Chris Eagles (36), JJ Hooper (49, 87), Luke Norris (90).
PORT VALE - Fasan; Kiko, Smith, Knops, Purkiss; Foley (Paulo Tavares 90), Guy, Eagles (Billy Reeves 79), Shodipo (Sam Kelly 70), Forrester; Hooper.
Subs Not Used - Mehmet, Tanser, Gibbons, Turner.
TOWN - Vigouroux; Barry, Thompson (C), Rossi-Branco, Ormonde-Ottewill; Colkett, Ince; Brophy, Obika, Gladwin (John Goddard 73); Ajose (Luke Norris 73).
Subs Not Used - Henry, Conroy, Jones, Thomas, Rodgers.
Referee - Geoff Eltringham
PORT VALE - JJ Hooper.
TOWN - Nathan Thompson, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, Raphael Rossi-Branco.
TOWN - Brad Barry
ATTENDANCE - 4,510 (424).