Harrogate Town 0 Port Vale 2: Referee Rebecca Welch makes history, but it's the same old story for the Sulphurites
History was made at the EnviroVent Stadium on Easter Monday as Rebecca Welch became the first female referee to officiate an EFL fixture.
But, for Harrogate Town, there was nothing new, the same old story unfolding as they served up another uninspiring performance and failed to score on their way to a 2-0 defeat to Port Vale.
Simon Weaver’s team are now without a win in five League Two matches, have lost three in a row at home without finding the back of the net, and not registered anywhere in well over 360 minutes of football.
Genuine play-off contenders as recently as March 20, the Sulphurites find themselves 16th in the table having picked up just one solitary point from the last 15 on offer.
Yet, with a strong wind at their backs, they started the game as well as they had any of their previous four, going about their business with a bit of purpose and a good tempo.
And it was Town who looked the more likely to break the deadlock, Mark Beck climbing at the near post to meet George Thomson's 17th-minute right-wing free-kick and forcing visiting custodian Scott Brown into a decent save.
Jack Muldoon then danced into the away box and saw a shout for a penalty turned down when his shot struck the arm of Vale defender Nathan Smith.
The hosts kept coming, McPake drawing another diving stop out of Brown with a curler from the edge of the area before Josh Falkingham pulled the loose ball back for Muldoon, who also tested the Valiants' goalkeeper's reactions.
Harrogate saw what looked a clearer shout for a spot-kick ignored on 31 minutes when Leon Legge went through the back of Connor Hall as the big centre-half attempted to get on the end of Thomson's delivery from the left, though again referee Welch was unmoved.
Having shown little other than a desire to launch the football into orbit as often as possible, Vale's only threatening moment of the opening period arrived seven minutes before the interval as Devante Rodney raced infield from the left wing fired at James Belshaw.
As sluggish as the visitors had looked during the first 45, they needed less than two minutes of the second period to take the lead.
Theo Robinson swung over a hopeful cross from the left and, with Dan Jones napping, David Worrall was able to charge in unopposed at the far post and ram a first-time strike beyond Belshaw.
Worryingly from a Harrogate point of view, there was almost no reaction to that set-back as they resorted to lumping balls in the general direction of Beck and hoping for the best.
Thus, the remainder of the afternoon was extremely comfortable for Darryl Clarke's men, who didn't really have to get out of second gear at any stage.
It took until the 74th minute for Town to threaten a response, Jones crossing from the right for substitute Aaron Martin to nod back across goal and wide of the upright with Muldoon lurking.
At the other end, Kurtis Guthrie took aim from 25 yards and drew a good stop out of Belshaw, before the Vale substitute found his range and wrapped things up on 90 minutes with a tidy low finish from inside the area.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw; Burrell, Smith, Hall, Jones; Thomson (Martin 67), Falkingham, Kerry, McPake; Beck, Muldoon (Kiernan 80). Unused substitutes: Minter, Fallowfield, Francis, Williams.
Port Vale: Brown; Smith, Legge, Brisley, Montano (Olagunju 90); Oyeleke (Taylor 63), Joyce, Conlon; Worrall, Robinson (Cullen 83), Rodney (Guthrie 63). Unused substitutes: Amoo, Hurst, Scott,
Referee: R Welch (County Durham).