SWINDON Town lost 2-1 at home to Port Vale on Saturday after a Ben Garrity double secured the Valiants’ first victory at the County Ground since 2005.

On an afternoon where Town were never really at the races, Tyreece Simpson’s early reply in the second half threatened to give the hosts a foothold in the game to go on and turn the result on its head.

But Ben Garner’s men failed to create too much and were punished late on in sickening style, giving owner Clem Morfuni a disappointing goodbye as he returns to his native Australia for a few months.

Town made eight changes to the side that beat Arsenal U21 in midweek and three to the side that drew 1-1 away at Stevenage last weekend.

Ellis Iandolo and Akin Odimayo dropped to the bench. Meanwhile, Harry McKirdy missed out altogether against his former club.

Jonny Williams and Alex Gilbert made their first league starts, and Kaine Kesler-Hayden returned to the XI following a game away on England U20 duty.

Vale made two changes themselves as Lewis Cass and Devante Rodney came into the starting XI.

The visitors began on the front foot and saw a couple of early set-pieces amount to nothing before they created the first real chance of the game in the sixth minute.

Dan Jones found Devante Rodney down the centre and the striker raced towards goal. Romoney Crichlow was able to get back and push Rodney onto his right, and Jojo Wollacott got down well to push the firm drive away.

Following an early yellow card for Jack Payne, Vale continued to dominate the chance counter. But it was Town who next went close when Tyreece Simpson broke into the box and slammed a shot against Nathan Smith from close range.

Two minutes before the visitors’ goal, Swindon had a golden chance to open the scoring themselves. Alex Gilbert cut in from the left and shot, but the ball squirmed through to Williams instead.

He chose to slide a ball across towards Simpson instead of shooting, and the ball dribbled agonisingly across the face of goal.

Midway through the first half, Darrell Clarke’s men did open their account for the afternoon. Port Vale enjoyed a little spell of pressure down the right, and when David Worrall’s cross came in from the right, it missed Crichlow's head by centimetres before Garrity absolutely nailed it into the corner.

As the time-wasting antics from Vale increased, the visitors almost doubled their lead 10 minutes before the break. Tom Conlon slipped a lovely pass through to Rodney with the outside of his left boot and the striker rounded Wollacott but couldn't keep his feet steady as he went to shoot before Town scrambled the cross away.

Gilbert curled a powerful effort at Covolan, and Kesler-Haydne almost scrambled home from close range following a mistake in the Vale defence. But Town could not find the breakthrough in a highly frustrating first 45 minutes.

Despite the underwhelming first half, Town wasted no time in the second before hauling themselves back on level terms.

Ben Garner’s men kept the ball for a while without really going anywhere, only for a little shuffle from Gilbert to allow the winger to break down the right and square for Simpson to tap into an empty net.

The goal appeared to galvanise Swindon, and Garner’s men put together a series of crosses and dangerous attacking moves that threatened to put them in front.

Kesler-Hayden and Gilbert both got into dangerous crossing positions, though nothing came of those, and Gilbert an effort scooped over by Covolan after breaking into the box between two defenders thanks to a fine piece of skill.

On the hour mark, Wollacott was forced to spring down to his left to deny Proctor from close range, and Worrall slammed a volley into the side netting shortly after.

In the 73rd minute, Simpson almost doubled his tally for the afternoon in some style. Picking the ball up on the right, he cut in onto his left and whipped a fierce shot off the bar from outside the box. It had Covolan beaten, but unfortunately it didn’t dip in time to nestle into the top corner.

And 10 minutes from time, Vale took a shock lead despite showing little desire to attack after the break. Substitute James Gibbons slammed a shot against the post from the left before Garrity smashed home the rebound from 10 yards out.

The late goal really took the stuffing out of Town, and Garner’s men were unable to create a chance that would allow them to take a point as time expired.

STFC starting XI: Wollacott, Conroy, Crichlow, Gladwin, Simpson, Payne, Gilbert, Williams, Kesler-Hayden, Hunt, Reed.

SUBS: Odimayo, Iandolo, Ward, Mitchell-Lawson, East, Parsons, Dabre.

PVFC starting XI: Covalan, Jones, Smith, Worrall, Garrity, Conlon, Benning, Proctor, Rodney, Pett, Cass.

SUBS: Gibbons, Wilson, Martin, Taylor, Lloyd, Politic, Stone.