MATCH REPORT: Sheffield United 2 Port Vale 1
PLUCKY Port Vale had their hearts broken when they conceded two late goals to slip out of the FA Cup.
The result was so tough on the Valiants, who battled all the way and barely deserved to finish on the wrong end of the scoreline.
Tom Pope's 21st goal of the season after 33 minutes looked to have been enough to clinch victory, but Shaun Miller levelled with a minute to go and then won it for United deep into injury time.
With Clayton McDonald having shaken off a thigh injury, Micky Adams was able to name the same team which beat Aldershot last week.
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That meant a first-ever FA Cup start for midfielder Kingsley James, the lifelong Blades fan who followed Adams to Vale Park last year.
United made the brighter start and Vale keeper Chris Neal had to be alert in the third minute when McDonald diverted a low cross from the left towards his own goal.
But the visitors were largely holding their own and it was another 10 minutes before they came under any further pressure as Nick Blackman's stinging left-foot volley from the edge of the area was deflected to safety by McDonald.
At the other end, McDonald's free-kick was headed down by Tom Pope at the far post and the ball bounced dangerously in the six-yard box before being cleared.
Flynn's long-range shot ballooned harmlessly over the bar just before the half-hour, but Vale almost went in front soon after. Pope's clever reverse pass freed strike partner Ben Williamson on the right of the box, but his low shot was beaten out by keeper George Young.
United's reprieve didn't last long. Harry Maguire's sloppy mistake down the right gifted the ball to Pope, who ran into the area. He looked to set up Williamson, but a return ball gave the striker space and time to bury a low shot into the bottom corner.
The home side, well below par in the first half, pressed forward after the break and were only denied by a world class save from Neal.
Michael Doyle's cross from the left was met by a thumping header from Shaun Miller, but Neal leapt to his left to somehow push the ball to safety from point-blank range.
Miller fired just wide after turning on the edge of the box after 54 minutes and Blackman thumped another effort into the arms of Neal.
But the Valiants were hardly under the cosh, even after Blackman had burst through on goal after 69. Having worked a position with a lovely one-two, he ran out of room as Neal raced out to make the block.
John McCombe and Richard Duffy were forced to make crucial blocks as United turned up the heat at last and there was a cheer from almost 3,300 Vale fans as new signing Calvin Andrew was thrown on for his debut up front with 14 minutes to go.
Vale were given a huge let-off on 81 minutes when Blackman's cross teed up Miller, only for the striker to somehow miscue a header from close-range. The ball bounced down and over the bar when it looked easier for the former Crewe front man to score.
It looked as though Vale had done enough, but Ryan Flynn's ball forward in the final minute caught the defence flat-footed and Miller nipped in to glance his header beyond Neal's dive.
United surged forward once more and broke visitors' hearts in injury time. Flynn's shot was brilliantly kept out by Neal, but substitute Richard Cresswell challenged for the rebound and the ball fell for Miller who rammed home.
Sheffield United: Long, Westlake, Collins (Williams, 46),Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Doyle, McAllister (Cofie, 66), Blackman, Porter (Cresswell, 87), Miller. Subs not used: Philliskirk, Ironside, McFadzean,
Port Vale: Neal, Duffy, McCombe, McDonald, Yates,
Myrie-Williams (Dodds, 76), Burge, James, Vincent (Taylor, 85), Williamson (Andrew, 76), Pope. Subs not used: Loft, Johnson, Shuker, Davis.
Referee: Kevin Wright.
Attendance: 10,215 (3,295 Vale fans)