Port Vale boss Micky Adams was eager to credit all his players and not just Tom Pope after the striker's terrific hat-trick secured an important 3-2 victory over promotion rivals Cheltenham.

Pope, voted the best player in npower League Two by rival managers last weekend, ended an 11-game barren spell to take his season's tally to 30 goals.

He also became the first player in history to score three hat-tricks in a season at Vale Park, but Adams said: "I was delighted with all of them. We told the players how important it was to be brave and positive and I'm very pleased to say they responded magnificently.

"When there was a forward pass on we played it forward, when there was a cross on we put the ball into the box. We told them not to take the easy option because a positive mindset is vital when the going gets tough.

"Saying that, Tom was superb. He was the catalyst to what we did. He's a local boy who is desperate to do well for the club he has supported since he was a boy.

"He epitomises the spirit we've got here. Some people have questioned that spirit and we have had a difficult spell, but we are a close-knit group and days like this bring us even closer.

"It's a very welcome win against one of our promotion rivals, but there is still work to do and will make sure we prepare in the right way for all of our last six games."

Town boss Mark Yates admitted the defeat had now made it very difficult for his side to achieve automatic promotion, and he said: "We will have to win our last five games to do that. It's possible and we are capable of going on a run, but I'm not stupid and we were looking for three points here.

"In fairness to Vale we fell apart for 20 minutes after the first goal and the game could have been over by half-time. But there were a few home truths said back in the dressing room and we got the right response in the second half.

"When Paul Benson put us in front they had gone, but fair play to Pope because he lifted them again and he's been on fire this season."