The season opened with four draws, somewhat ironic considering that McGrath had stated that 'forwards are much more important now' after the Football League changed a win from earning two points to three points. On 12 September, their club-record run of six consecutive draws came to an end. Four victories in five games then put Vale into seventh place, and Colin Tartt was signed from Chesterfield for £15,000. A 2–0 home defeat to Sheffield United in front of the television cameras was the first of a run of four defeats in five games, and sent an injury-hit Vale down into mid-table. In November, Lee Harwood was forced to retire with a knee injury. Vale then went on a fifteen match unbeaten run in the league, and between 20 January and 6 March the team went on a club-record six consecutive home draws. Stoke City offered £100,000 plus incentives for Mark Chamberlain, but Chairman Don Ratcliffe called the offer 'an insult' and rejected it out of hand. Instead Tony Sealy arrived on loan, this time from Queens Park Rangers. On 6 February Mark Chamberlain scored a memorable goal at Field Mill when he stood off the pitch to avoid being caught offside, then returned to tackle a startled Rod Arnold and tap the ball into an empty net.Mansfield Town manager Stuart Boam was so enraged that the goal stood that he raced onto the pitch to verbally abuse the linesman. In March, Johnny Miller had to retire with a knee injury. On 20 March, Mark Harrison conceded 'a crazy goal' from Hull City left-back Dennis Booth at Boothferry Park, whose fifty yard free kick hit the back of the net after several bounces. Injuries hit the Vale squad and the promotion campaign faded away. On 1 May, Vale Park witnessed its lowest ever Football League attendance when a mere 1,924 turned up against York City.
They finished in seventh place with seventy points, eighteen short of fourth-placed Bournemouth. With nine away victories and twelve home draws, McGrath stated that "we blew it at Burslem".Ernie Moss was the Player of the Year and top-scorer with seventeen goals, however it was Mark Chamberlain who was selected in the PFAFourth Division team and received a cheque for £250 when he was chosen as The Star's best player of the division.