A double from Jevani Brown and a last minute screamer from Archie Collins saw Gary Caldwell pick up his first win charge as City progressed through to round two of the FA Cup at Port Vale,
With cup action back on the agenda, Caldwell made one change, with Jevani Brown coming back into the fray, replacing Harry Kite.
In an even first half, it was 1-1 at the break as Brown levelled after Dennis Politic's opener, before Jevani's stunner regained the second half lead. It looked like the tie was heading for a replay through Dan Butterworth's close range finish, but 90 seconds later - a minute from full time 0- Collins' thumper won it for the Grecians.
From losing the ball straight from kick off, it looked like it was going to be a shaky start for City, but after getting themselves on the ball only minutes later, they mustered up their first chance of the game. Devon derby goal scorer Collins let one go about 20 yards out, missing the target, but it still had Aiden Stone in the Valiants net scrambling.
Next it was Port Vale who had the chance, it was Butterworth who had the ball on the edge of the City penalty area, but his effort on target didn’t trouble Blackman gathering the ball up and playing it upfield to Stansfield.
There was a heart in mouths moment for the travelling Grecians as Josh Key lost possession 30 yards out, leaving no defenders between Dennis Politic and Blackman, but the City keeper made himself as big as possible making a huge save. The rebound fell to Mipo Odubeko but a fantastic sliding challenge from Hartridge kept the scores goalless.
Moments later with 25 minutes played, Port Vale on the break made it 1-0 courtesy of a fantastic finish from Politic, smashing home on the angle inside the area.
Three minutes later and it was Politic aiming to make the headlines once again, but his thunderous effort rocketed off of the bar.
In the dying moments of the first half, City were able to get themselves back into the game, thanks to excellent pressing play down the right-hand side from Stansfield. After nipping the ball away from the Vale defender, he weaved his way into the penalty area, after looking up he saw Brown waiting about 12 yards and played the ball to his feet and with excellent composure he slotted the ball into the back of the net.
Not long after the restart Port Vale clearly thought changes were needed, and with that a double change was made with Mal Benning and Gavin Massey being called upon to replace Liam McCarron and Tom Pett.
The new changes were unable to stop what happened next though, an unbelievable strike from Brown for his second of the game saw City make it 2-1. After picking the ball up about 30 yards out, Brown took a few touches and with his left foot let rip and almost took the back of the net off with his thunderous strike.
With less than ten minutes left to play, the travelling Grecians couldn’t believe it when Stansfield didn’t make it 3-1. After picking up the ball 20 yards out he weaved into the area but his strike on goal was palmed around the back post by Valiants keeper - an excellent piece of play by both Stansfield and Aiden Stone in goal for Port Vale.
With only three minutes of normal time left to play, Butterworth hit home an equaliser to level the game up at 2-2 after a scrappy period of play inside the City penalty area.
However, their lead lasted less than two minutes as City’s midfield maestro Archie Collins got his second in as many games, hitting a screamer from distance and echoing Jevani’s second of the game - it's your call on whose was better!
The draw for the second round takes place live on the BBC from 7pm on Monday.
The next game for the Grecians, is a first home game for Gary Caldwell, with Peterborough the first club being welcomed to SJP under Gary’s reign, taking place on November 12th.
Port Vale: Stone, Cass (Robinson), Jones, Smith, Worrall, Conlon ©, Odubeko (Charsley), Pett (Massey), Butterworth, McCarron (Benning), Politic (Holden)
Subs not used: Hall, Small, Stevens, McDermott
City: Blackman, Caprice, Key, Sweeney ©, Hartridge, Sparkes, Collins, Dieng, Brown, Nombe (Kite), Stansfield (Jay).
Subs not used: Brown, Beardmore, Harper, Chauke, Cox.
Referee: Simon Mather
Attendance: 4807 (205 Away)