The season opened with two Bailey goals, though Vale would have to wait until their fourth match for a victory, at which point their coffers were boosted by £10,000 following Sammy Morgan's success at Aston Villa. In September, Sproson made a £10,000 bid for Keith Leonard that was rejected. Instead he brought in young left-back Garry Dulson on loan from Nottingham Forest, and later bought him permanently for £5,000, using another £5,400 Villa were forced to pay Vale after Morgan hit another target. The "Valiants" proved difficult to beat, and heading into Christmas they won six of their last nine league games. Their 4–0 win over Huddersfield Town lifted them into third place, though attendances were still below 4,000. A 3–1 win over Southend United at Roots Hall then put the club into second spot, at which point Bob Mountford was sold to Rochdale for £2,000. A four-day holiday in Benidorm in the new year did not seem to help the Vale, as three straight defeats followed to drag them down the table. To halt the slide Sproson bought striker Derek Brownbill from Liverpool for £5,000. Two sendings off in a 3–1 defeat at Leeds Road – John Brodie also managed to break his leg in the challenge that earned him a red card – forced Sproson to defend his team after that took the Vale's red card tally to seven for the season. Nevertheless, a solid spell put Vale back into the promotion race by March, though their form dropped off again, and their hopes were crushed completely on 26 April with a 3–1 defeat at home to Gordon Lee's champions-elect Blackburn Rovers.
On the financial side, a loss was made of £16,964 despite donations of £13,803 from the development funds. The supporters group also paid £1,200 for video equipment, allowing the club to record games and show players their mistakes. The average home attendance of 4,346 was the third-lowest in the division. Wages stood at £72,874, gate receipts took in £43,199, and there was a loss in the transfer market of £6,000. The financial situation meant that seven players were released and thirteen were retained. Amongst those departing were: John Woodward (Scunthorpe United); Frank Sharp (Northwich Victoria); Roy Cross (Nuneaton Borough); Bill Summerscales (Rochdale); and Reg Edwards (Brereton Social).