Steve Chettle’s young side were beaten 5-3 despite a determined display at Vale Park.
The hosts fielded a number of players with a wealth of first-team experience but Notts pushed them all the way after falling behind to two Scott Quigley goals in the opening 20 minutes.
Sam Osborne halved the deficit before the break and Remaye Campbell levelled things from the spot just after the hour before Port Vale went 4-2 ahead thanks to Idris Kanu and Dave Worrall.
Notts pulled another back as Osborne added his second of the afternoon before an unfortunate Owen Betts own-goal completed the scoring.
The hosts were quick out of the blocks and Betts had to be alert to make two good blocks within the opening five minutes but he could do nothing when the ball was played to Quigley for a simple tap in following Culverwell’s goal kick.
The Notts keeper denied Worrall twice but had no chance of keeping Quigey’s second out as he fired the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box after Hardcastle played him in.
Culverwell made more great stops as the half wore on, getting down low to either side to thwart Brendon Daniels and then Kanu.
The deficit was reduced to one on the half-hour mark when Campbell and Tom Crawford linked up well before the latter played in Osborne on the left-hand side of the box. The winger worked a yard of space and fired the ball low across goal to score with the Magpies’ first shot on target.
Quigley could have had a first-half hat-trick but fired high into the stands after turning well on the edge of the box, before Culverwell made the pick of his saves to keep out Kanu’s rasping drive towards the bottom right corner.
Culverwell was called into action within 10 minutes of the restart, getting down well to palm Kanu’s effort away and Quigley missed a golden chance for his third as he fired the rebound over.
Worrall and Kanu then both went close for the hosts before Kieran Cummings was denied by a good block as Notts searched for an equaliser.
And they did draw level in the 63rd minute when Cummings’ cross was handled in the box and Campbell confidently tucked away the resultant penalty.
But Notts weren’t level for long as Quigley turned provider for Kanu to finish at the back post.
Culverwell made another good stop from Worrall’s effort and Quigley was offside as he turned the rebound in.
The two-goal margin was restored in the 72nd minute when Worrall struck the ball on the half-volley through a crowd - Culverwell seeing it late and unable to get down in time.
But moments later the deficit was halved again, Osborne grabbing his second after beating three men inside the box with some neat footwork before clinically finishing.
Corey Bucalossi was introduced for the last 10 minutes with Coden Duncan making way, before Betts scored an unfortunate own-goal when captain Declan Dunn’s clearance cannoned back off him to make it 5-3.
Culverwell denied Theo Vassell and Campbell saw a looping header drop narrowly wide as the clock ticked down towards full-time.
And, after Quigley was denied his hat-trick for good by the Magpies’ keeper with the game’s last chance, the referee called time on an entertaining game.
Steve Chettle and Sam Osborne gave their reaction to iFollow Notts after full-time.
Notts: Culverwell, Newell, Marshall, Ramirez, Betts, Dunn, Cummings, Crawford, Campbell, Duncan (Bucalossi), Osborne.
Subs not used: Brooks, Wilde.