Port Vale boss Martin Foyle was looking to steady the ship after his side took a 4-0 beating at Bournemouth, but with the injury list still as long as his arm, a win against Swindon Town looked to be a long shot.
Vale's first-half performance defied belief with Town running riot down both flanks. Jamie McMaster almost opened the scoring after 20 minutes when he headed Sam Igoe's left-sided corner wide.
The away side came forward again eight minutes later with first Matt Hewlett's shot flying wide and seconds after Rory Fallon heading past Jonathan Brain's left post with marker George Pilkington falling over.
The Valiants did occasionally manage to string passes together and when a defensive mix-up in the 38th minute allowed James O'Connor to slide Marc Goodfellow through, it was left to Rhys Evans to rush out and block the shot.
Whatever was said at half-time in the home dressing room certainly worked as Swindon were forced to take a back seat. The addition of Chris Birchall also added pace to the home side's attacks.
He gave his side their best chance on 72minutes when O'Connor's cross from the right was met by the substitute's head but his effort was deflected wide.
However, the youngster got it right when Goodfellow's tricky shot was only parried by Evans and was polished off from two yards by Birchall, to break his scoring duck on 76 minutes.