Burton Albion continued their disappointing midweek form going down to a 3-1 defeat against Staffordshire rivals Port Vale in the Potteries.
In their first away game for six weeks the Brewers for long periods looked capable of getting something from the game but their chances of taking so much as a point were ended when new loan signing O'Neil Thompson was harshly penalised inside the box.
A bad night got worse as the Brewers lost Greg Pearson early ion the first half to injury and in second half stoppage time had keeper Artur Krysiak red carded for bringing down substitute Craig Davies.
In truth it was not a bad Brewers performance but the start to 2010 has not been kind to Paul Peschisolido's men.
Loan signing O'Neil Thompson was thrown straight into a threadbare Brewers squad for the rearranged Boxing Day game against Staffordshire rivals Port Vale.
The Jamaican international defender went thrust into the back four to partner Tony James in the centre with Andy Corbett restored to right back after his substitute appearance on Saturday.
Jacques Maghoma was rewarded for a sterling second half performance with a starting slot as Keith Gilroy dropped to the bench.
On loan striker Steve Kabba picked up a leg injury on Saturday against Shrewsbury meaning a recall for Shaun Harrad alongside Greg Pearson in attack.
Albion's injury list and suspensions meant that only four substitutes were available including reserve team striker JamesKnowles and veteran keeper Kevin Poole.
The Valiants had two former Albion loanees in their ranks, ex-Morecambe full back Adam Yates and former Walsall midfielder Kris Taylor, the latter having the forst real chance of the game in the third minute with a typically teasing free kick that went dangerously through Albion's six yard box.
A promising start by Albion soon went by the wayside as Port Vale took the lead in the seventh minute. Sean Rigg did well to work a crossing opportunity down the Vale right and with two team mates to choose from he laid the ball into the path of Marc Richards to calmly score past Artur Krysiak.
Things looked top be going from bad to worse when leading scorer Greg Pearson had to be replaced by Richard Walker as early as the 13th minute.
Albion though were back on level terms shortly afterwards. Andy Corbett's long ball out from right back was flicked on by Cleveland Taylor who then chased after the ball and nicked it beyond goalkeeper Chris Martin who brought the winger down inside the box. With Pearson off the pitch it fell to Shaun Harrad starting his first game since December 1st to step up and smash home the resulting penalty.
Only the fingertips of goalkeeper Martin denied Harrad a second goal on twenty minutes when the striker latched onto a Jacques Maghoma pass before drilling a shot across goal.
Vale were back in front in the 25th minute. O'Neil Thompson lost a challenge 25 yards out and Sean Rigg was left to run on and fire past Krysiak.
Taylor, playing to a chorus of boos from the home crowd after his part in Albion's equaliser almost created a second equaliser with a teasing cross that was just too high for Walker.
The game continued at a fast tempo with both sides trading attacking chances. Former Halifax Town man Anthony Griffith looked to be in on goal after a lovely diagonal pass but a fantastic tackle from Tony James inside the penalty area averted the danger.
Russell Penn found himself in referee Geoff Eltringham's notebook for a foul on Griffith that seemed to incense the home players needlessly.
As the first half entered stoppage time a loopoing header from Harrad almost embarrassed Martin, the keeper having to cautiously tip over the strikers effort which looked set to dip under the crossbar.
The striker was even closer in the first minute of tyhe second half. Cleveland Taylor teased the left side of Port Vale's defence and when Russ Penn's cross came in, Shaun Harrad launched a spectacuolar overhead kick that crashed off the inside of the post and back across goal, frustratingly staying out of the net.
Albion continued to look the side more likely to add to the scoring and it nearly came for loan signing Cleveland Taylor in the 54th minute picking up a crossfield field and cutting into the box before a low shot in from the angle that flew narrowly wide of Martin's far post.
Port Vale survived the Brewers onslaught and went close themselves to the fourth goal of the game in the 64th minute. Goalscorer Marc Richards only finding the side netting with Artur Krysiak stranded having palmed away Lewis Haldane's teasing cross to the far post.
It was the signal for a spell of sustained pressure from the home side and from a left wing corner Lee Collins should have done better than blaze over the bar from twelve yards out.
Vale's goal was leading a charmed life and when Maghoma put in a superb low cross from the right that Martin spilled at his near post he was lucky that it bounced away from the onrushing Harrad who would have had an easy tap in otherwise.
Boertien picked up a yellow card for a robust challenge on Lewis Haldane which was born out of frustration that the winger had clearly fouled the full back seconds earlier as the two fought for the ball on the touchline.
Albion continued to threaten but most of their efforts were from range, Russell Penn firings straight at Martin in the 84th minute.
A minute later and Albion's fate was sealed as Vale were given a penalty. Substitute Craig Davies ran into the box and appeared to run into O'Neil Thompson but referee decided that the on loan defender had impeded him and pointed to the penalty spot. Marc Richards stepped up and confidently beat Krysiak low to his left.
Richard Walker wasted a glorious chance to set up a grandstand finish in the 87th minute when Russell Penn's close range effort was saved and the ball fell invitingly for the ex-Bristol Rovers man just a few yards out but he blazed over the bar.
Just when it seemed that things could not get any worse for the Brewers, goalkeeper Artur Krysiak was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Davies on the edge of the box as the substitute broke clear on goal.
Albion man of the match: Tony James - another solid performance from the ever reliable centre half.