Relieved Stevenage boss Steve Evans praised his side’s character after beating Port Vale on penalties to progress into the third round of the FA Cup.
Battling Boro overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to set up a trip to minnows Maidstone.
Ben Garrity’s brace put Vale two goals to the good before late efforts from Harvey White and Kane Hemmings, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, sent the game to extra time.
Ryan Loft scored a first Vale goal in the 115th minute but Nathan Thompson forced penalties and Stevenage stopper Taye Ashby-Hammond was the shootout hero as he saved spot-kicks from scorers Garrity and Loft.
Evans reflected: “We don’t do things the easy way.
“First things first, if you’ve come to the stadium as a neutral then this is a fantastic cup tie. You must be on the edge of your seat at both ends.
“When we get into the game and Harvey gets a goal I think we’re totally, totally dominant.
“When it goes 2-2 we know extra time’s coming but we think there’s only one winner because we had a lot of chances.
“To have the character the group has got to come back and score again to take the game to penalties is incredible.
“For the first 60 minutes we didn’t look like we wanted to be in the FA Cup, but for the last half-hour plus extra time we did.”
Vale boss Andy Crosby insisted his side only had themselves to blame after they crashed out.
After seeing his side crumble from 2-0 and 3-2 up, Crosby admitted: “We’ve thrown the game away twice. To concede a last-minute equaliser in normal time and then exactly the same thing happens in extra time, that makes it very tough to take.
“To go 2-0 up against a team who are third or fourth in our league was pleasing, but then we lost control of the game a bit and they can do that to you.
“The game wasn’t over at full-time, there were 30 minutes left. We go back in front again and look at the clock and think ‘we need to see this out now’. We’ve got to defend our box better than we did.
“The guys have given everything but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve only got ourselves to blame.
“It takes bravery to take a penalty in any situation in a shootout. Those guys have stood up, penalties get missed. It is what it is.
“Life is tough at times, you take the hits and you have to get up again and move forward.”