Port Vale had a goal disallowed and conceded an own goal as they fell to a seventh away reverse at Tranmere.
The Merseysiders maintained their push towards the Division Two play-off zone but manager Ray Mathias admitted: "A draw might have been a fairer result today but we had our bit of luck. It was not a good performance but I have go to be pleased with the three points." Steve Brooker had a close-range effort ruled out in the 19th minute for offside after Tranmere keeper John Achterberg had made an excellent save from Ian Armstrong.
The own goal came on the half hour. Sean McClare, in trying to clear a harmless cross by Simon Haworth, simply diverted the ball past his own keeper Mark Goodlad and into the net.
Tranmere on the day had the better chances but Goodlad made a couple of good saves and hard working Howarth headed into the side netting.
Vale strove hard during the second period but Armstrong saw a shot in the 69th minute deflected to safety off the keeper who later made an excellent save from substitute Billy Paynter.
In the 77th minute Brooker saw an effort deflected for a corner and in the 89th minute Steve Rowland headed over from a corner.
Vale boss Brian Horton said: "It was a result which was not quite justice. I thought we deserved at least a draw. I am very disappointed.
"An own goal cost us the game and it was a poor goal. My player just had a wild swing at the ball instead of showing composure - he just panicked."