Port Vale 1 Ipswich Town 3
Alex Mathie helped himself to a birthday brace as Ipswich survived plucky Port Vale's second-half fightback to take the points in the midlands derby.
Vale boss John Rudge was forced to field a makeshift defence, and Mathie, 29 today, took full advantage.
Ipswich took a 10th-minute lead when Mathie, who spent a month on loan at Vale Park five years ago, opened his account with an opportunist strike.
Danny Sonner galloped unhindered through Vale's static defence, and his low shot was finished off by Mathie as Allen Tankard attempted to clear.
There was more misery for Vale in the 22nd minute when Town extended their lead with the home rearguard again at sixes and sevens.
A chip over the top by Geraint Williams caught them flat-footed, and Mathie sprinted clear to crash in his second.
It got even worse for Vale just a minute later when centre-half Mark Snijders limped off to be replaced by Andy Porter.
Rudge's side were in danger of caving in completely but showed signs of a fightback as Martin Foyle fired over from a Rogier Koordes cross.
Vale's recovery continued, and they should have pulled a goal back in the 36th minute when Tony Naylor sent Gareth Ainsworth sprinting clear.
The winger's low drive came back of the foot of the post, and Naylor somehow put the rebound wide with the goal at his mercy.
Vale's calamitous first-half display was complete in the 43rd minute when a terrible mix-up between Paul Musselwhite and Dean Stokes enabled David Johnson to stroke his sixth goal in seven games.
Vale came out with fire in their bellies at the start of the second half and pulled a goal back within five minutes.
Wayne Corden crossed from the left, and veteran Foyle leapt highest to steer a well placed header beyond Richard Wright for Vale's first goal in 452 minutes.
The effort spurred on Vale, and Wright's brilliant save denied them a second goal as Naylor pounced on Porter's cross two minutes later.
Johnson wasted two fine chances to restore Ipswich's cushion on the break, but brave Vale were out of luck again five minutes from time when Foyle headed against the bar from a Corden cross.