Port Vale progressed into the second round of the Emirates FA Cup on Friday night as goals from Gavin Gunning and Tom Pope saw off Sky Bet League One side, Oxford United.
On an evening where the Valiants dominated against strong opposition at Vale Park, it was a deserved victory for the hosts and they now await to discover who their opponents will be in the next stage of the competition.
It was Oxford United who created the first chance of the tie on six minutes as a lofted ball over the top of the Vale defence found James Henry, but the forward was denied by a smart Ryan Boot save.
Up the other end just seconds later, the hosts almost fashioned a goal scoring opportunity of their own, but John Mousinho rescued the U’s with a well-timed challenge deep inside his own defensive third.
Vale then went close to finding a breakthrough with a quarter of an hour played as Tom Pope saw a header tipped around the post by Simon Eastwood. It didn’t take long for the home side to take the lead, however, as James Gibbons supplied a cross for Gavin Gunning to steer into the corner of the net via his head on 16 minutes.
As Neil Aspin’s men grew in confidence, a surging Marcus Harness run allowed the winger to fire a powerful strike on target with 21 minutes on the clock, only to be thwarted by Eastwood who got down to it well.
The visiting goalkeeper was then called into action once again eight minutes later as Gunning met a David Worrall corner, but his header failed to beat Eastwood on this occasion. Several crosses were then lofted into the away area during the next passage of play, but the Oxford rear-guard dealt with the danger.
Following the restart both sides battled for possession, but the Valiants doubled their advantage in the 53rd minute after some neat build-up. The ball found its way to Danny Pugh and he lofted in a cross from the left flank, allowing Pope to rise above his marker and plant a header beyond the ‘keeper.
With United chasing a two-goal deficit, Ryan Ledson went on a mazy run with 64 minutes played before flashing an effort just past the near post. Five minutes later, Tyler Denton latched onto a poor back-pass, but he couldn’t find a finish.
Pope then went close to adding a third on 71 minutes as he connected with a Worrall cross, only to watch his downward header to drift wide.
Anton Forrester was introduced as a 78th-minute substitute following a spell on the sidelines, and he tested the reactions of Eastwood with two minutes remaining in the tie, but the ‘keeper came out on top to parry the ball away from goal.
Port Vale: Boot, Denton, Anderson, Smith, Gunning, Gibbons, Pugh ©, Kay, Worrall (Forrester 78), Harness (Turner 84), Pope (Stobbs 90).
Unused Substitutes: Hornby, Tonge, Montano, Reeves.
Oxford United: Eastwood, Ribeiro ©, Tiendalli, Williamson (Martin 45), Ledson, Thomas, Payne, Ruffels (Rothwell 63), Henry, Mowatt (Hall 55), Mousinho.
Unused Substitutes: Shearer, Fernandez, Obika, Carroll.
Attendance: 3,443 (396 away).