DONCASTER Rovers’ promising start to the season came to a shuddering halt as they conceded three times and had a player dismissed at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The home side had pulled a goal back with quarter-of-an-hour to go when trailing 3-0 to give themselves hope.
But three minutes later it was extinguished as Harry Forrester was controversially sent off for an alleged foul on Vale goalkeeper Sam Johnson.
The winger appeared to attempt to shoot as Johnson went down to smother the ball. A slightly exaggerated reaction by the goalkeeper worked against Forrester who was dismissed after referee Geoff Eltringham consulted his assistant.
Manager Paul Dickov said: “In the first half we didn’t get started. Port Vale were better then us, it’s as simple as that.
“The manner we lost the goals with two corners and a throw-in is really poor from our point of view.
“People have designated roles in the team; they didn’t fulfil that and you get punished for it.
“We can’t start games like that, as good as the players have been over the first two games.”
First-half strikes from Ben Williamson, Tom Pope and Carl Dickinson stunned Rovers.
A fine effort from distance from Kyle Bennett proved small consolation after Forrester’s premature exit.
Dickov’s team had begun with away victories at Yeovil and York City, in League One and Capital One Cup respectively.
Doncaster Rovers: Steer, Wabara, Jones, McCullough, Evina, Coppinger, Furman (De Val Fernandez 46), Keegan, Forrester, Tyson (Robinson 46), Main (Bennett 65). Unused substitutes: Marosi, Wakefield, Askins, Whitehouse.
Port Vale: Johnson, Veseli, Duffy, McGivern, Dickinson, Birchall (Dodds 80), O’Connor (Brown 80), Lines, Marshall, Williamson (Jennings 75), Pope. Unused substitutes: Neal, Robertson, Daniel, Lloyd.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).