It took a penalty shootout for West Brom to scrape past Port Vale and set up a League Cup third-round clash with Norwich City.
Rickie Lambert went closest to giving Tony Pulis’ side the lead at the end of a tepid first half – with his deflected shot forcing Vale ‘keeper Jak Alnwick, who was fantastic throughout, into an instinctive save.
The hosts improved in the second half, with the impressive Lambert going close on several occasions, while Salomon Rondon missed numerous chances after coming off the bench before hitting the crossbar in extra time.
But Albion made amends for their wasteful finishing in the resulting penalty shootout, James Chester converting the crucial spot-kick after Vale’s Richard Duffy had blazed his attempt over the bar.
Albion rejected a second bid from Tottenham for Saido Berahino earlier on Tuesday, and the striker was again left out of Pulis’ side, who suffered an early blow when Chris Brunt was forced off through injury.
Despite the loss of their skipper, Albion continued to press, and should have taken the lead through Brown Ideye, but the Nigerian headed wide after connecting with Lambert’s cross.
Lambert almost had his maiden West Brom goal on the stroke of half time, but his deflected shot was clawed away from danger by Alnwick.
The former Liverpool man continued to pose the main threat to Vale’s defence after the interval, seeing a header cleared off the line before his long-range strike was tipped over by Alnwick.
Byron Moore, who scored in Vale’s win against Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, flashed an effort across the face of goal in a rare venture forward by the visitors, with Pulis soon introducing Rondon.
And Albion’s record-signing almost made an immediate impact – Lambert finding him in the area with a delightful pass – but the Venezuelan directed his header wide.
Alnwick was again the hero for Vale when he tipped over Lambert’s 40-yard strike to take the tie into extra time.
Rondon should have won it in the 116th minute, but he somehow hit the woodwork with a free-header as Vale held firm to go to penalties.
However, Albion made sure of their progression from the spot, scoring all five of their kicks to ensure victory.