Micky Adams praised debutant Ritchie Sutton for his accomplished display in Saturday's draw with Gillingham.
The 24-year-old, signed from non-league Nantwich over the summer, made his full Football League bow at the heart of defence and helped ensure Vale came away with at least a point from a game in which they desperately wanted all three to get back to winning ways.
Afterwards, Adams admitted his disappointment with his side's overall display as they lost top spot in League Two but he reserved special praise for Sutton and that of his experienced defensive partner.
"The point and a clean sheet were two positives, which we shouldn't forget," added the Vale boss. "Ritchie was excellent and so was Gareth Owen alongside him. They were rock solid and they had to be."
Sutton himself told Vale's official website: "Before kick-off I was absolutely buzzing to be honest with you. It was a very big moment for me and I am very pleased to get it out of the way.
"Overall I was happy with my performance. I had been playing well in the reserve and cup games so it was just about biding my time before I was given the chance to start a league game."