Two second-half goals from AJ Leitch-Smith saw Port Vale come from a goal down to beat Maidenhead United 3-1 in Thursday’s FA Cup first-round replay.
Captain Alan Massey gave the National League South side an early lead with a precise finish after quarter of an hour, but Northern Ireland international Michael O’Connor levelled shortly before half-time.
Leitch-Smith put the League One outfit in control before the hour mark, scoring twice just after half-time, and Vale saw out the victory despite a spirited effort from the hosts.
Vale will now go on to meet Paul Tisdale’s Exeter City at St James Park.
Ben Wright’s bold run to the right of the area gave Maidenhead a dream start at York Road. The number 10 cut inside before seeing his shot blocked by Ryan McGivern, and when Jak Alnwick parried the first rebound, Massey fired a fine left-footed shot into the bottom corner through the crowded penalty area.
Vale survived a difficult period to draw level on 39 minutes, O’Connor rising high to head home Sam Foley’s cross into the bottom corner at the far post.
Robert Page’s side took the lead in the tie just four minutes after half-time, with Leitch-Smith reacting quickest to a loose ball in the box before prodding past Carl Pentney from six yards out.
And the 25-year-old doubled his side’s advantage as he dived to nod home from close range after Foley’s cushioned header back across goal.
Maidenhead responded well and sustained some pressure in the second half, with Harry Pritchard heading one promising late chance over the crossbar, but Vale held on to book a trip to Exeter on December 6.
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