Goals from Chris Humphrey, Joe Garner and Paul Gallagher put North End into the third round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in an entertaining game at Deepdale.
Humphrey gave North End the lead 13 minutes in, checking inside from the right and firing low into the bottom left hand corner.
However, the visitors levelled with their first attempt on target on 51 minutes, Tom Pope’s header finding the bottom right hand corner from ten yards out.
Garner added to his goals against Vale with a superb curling effort into the top corner with just under half an hour left and three minutes later Gallagher poked home after excellent work from Humphrey to make it 3-1.
Pope added another header from substite Byron Moore's cross in the final minute of normal time, but North End held on for the win.
Manager Simon Grayson had little option in his selections, with the 16 players available for selection, not injured or on international duty, selected in the squad.
This meant a first start for Kyel Reid and places on the bench for Jack Ryan again, plus Nick Anderton and a returning Lee Holmes, for the first time in 2014/15.
It was a cagey opening, with neither side threatening their opponent’s goal until North End sparked into life with the opening goal on 13 minutes.
The ball was played in from the left by Kyel Reid and it zipped through on the slick surface, Valiants loan man Stephane Zubar unable to clear and Chris Humphrey collected, controlled, turned inside Carl Dickenson and slotted low into the bottom left corner past former PNE stopper Chris Neal.
The Lilywhites then dominated the rest of the half without grabbing the second their play deserved. On 20 minutes some great build up play almost brought another. Firstly Reid showed tremendous skill on the left before the ball came all the way across to Humphrey who beat Dickenson, drove to the byline and pulled the ball back. Gallagher dummied the cross and that left a run of John Welsh who met the ball and dragged a shot just inches wide of the left hand post.
Shortly after a Kyel Reid corner, won again by Humphrey, was met by Tom Clarke with a powerful header at the front post, but the skipper couldn’t keep it down.
More excellent build up play followed on the 26 minute mark, eventually seeing Garner volleying Clarke’s cross and Duffy blocking to concede another corner.
With ten minutes of the half left the ball ricocheted around in the Port Vale box after Kyel Reid’s delivery from the left, but Gallagher couldn’t get a meaningful connection and Neal claims low to his right.
However, the visitors were level with their first effort on goal of the game six minutes into the second half. A long free kick from half way from Chris Lines was met by Tom Pope at the back post who headed down and past Thorsten Stuckmann into the bottom right hand corner.
The equaliser sparked North End into life in the second period and Garner and Gallagher saw shots blocked two minutes after the goal, before the seconds ricochet fell to John Welsh, whose drive beat Neal, but also beat the right hand upright in front of the Town End goal by a matter of inches.
Kyel Reid then showed quick feet to beat two defenders before forcing Neal into a fine low save to his left as the game opened up as it closed in on the hour mark.
North End were back in front on 63 minutes and it was Port Vale’s nemesis Joe Garner with an exquisite finish. The ball came into Paul Gallagher 30 yards out, he looked like he was looking for a one-two with top scorer, but Garner had other ideas as he clipped a delicious curling chip past Neal and into the top right hand corner from inside the ‘D’.
It was 3-1 with 21 minutes left and Paul Gallagher scored it, but it owed everything to the tremendous work of Chris Humphrey. The Jamaican started out on the right hand side midway into the Vale half right on the touchline as he took the ball past Dickenson and then raced inside into the box, to the byline and pulled the ball back for Gallagher to poke over the line from less than a yard out.
It was Humphrey’s last action as Jack Ryan was given more time on the pitch.
Gallagher fizzed a free kick from the edge of the box just over the bar after Kyel Reid’s trickery brought a foul right on the edge of the Vale box, the vanishing spray used by referee Mr Bankes giving the No.12 the room to shoot.
With three minutes left Josh Brownhill, on for John Welsh, forced Neal to push a 35-yard strike over the bar, but Pope headed home substitute Byron Moore's cross with a minute left to make it a nervy spell of five added minutes injury time for the Lilywhites, but they managed it well and booked a place in the third round.
PNE line-up: Stuckmann, Clarke (c), Buchanan, Kilkenny, King, Huntington, Humphrey (Ryan, 71), Welsh (Brownhill, 82), Garner, Gallagher (Holmes, 82), Reid. Subs not used: Jones, Anderton.
Port Vale line-up: Neal, Yates, Dickenson (c), Duffy, Birchall (Williamson, 70), Dodds, Lines, Pope, Brown (Moore, 83), Marshall, Zubar. Subs not used: Johnson, Robertson, Daniel.
Attendance: 3,836 (286 away fans)
Referee: Mr P Bankes