Leicester City edged past the Football League’s bottom club Gillingham in the FA Cup third round at Priestfield Stadium.
The Foxes were limited in chances and frustrated in the first half by a well-organised Gillingham side.
They started the second half brighter and found the opening through Kelechi Iheanacho, who managed to fire home Kasey McAteer’s drilled cross.
The draw for the fourth round takes place on 8 January at 16:05 GMT.
Leicester travels to Newcastle on Tuesday for a Carabao Cup quarter-final and Iheanacho told BBC Sport that Saturday’s result will boost confidence.
“Obviously, this will give us momentum to go to the next cup competition,” said Nigeria forward.
“We are playing Newcastle and it’s revenge for us as they beat us [3-0] in the Premier League, so it’s not going to be easy but fingers crossed, we will fight to our last breath to make sure we win.”
Leicester arrived at League Two Gillingham after a disappointing run of three consecutive defeats in the Premier League.
In blustery conditions, Jamie Vardy was the first to test Gills goalkeeper Jake Turner inside five minutes, but the 23-year-old blocked the striker’s attempt to the delight of the home fans.
Less than a minute later, a positive counter-attack by Gillingham resulted in midfielder Dom Jefferies trying a low effort that was saved by Leicester keeper Daniel Iversen.
Neil Harris’ Gillingham has only scored seven league goals this season, but captain Shaun Williams also came close to causing Leicester problems with two chances in the opening 45 minutes.
But the hosts’ resistance was broken after the break in a scrappy manner as McAteer’s ball into the middle bobbled across the pitch and landed at the feet of Iheanacho who lashed a shot into the top corner.
The conditions were far from ideal for the travelling supporters in Kent, but at least the journey home will be happier this time around for the Leicester faithful with a place in the FA Cup fourth round secured.
Brendan Rodgers made eight changes to the side beaten by Fulham in midweek and was hoping an FA Cup giant-killing would not be added to their miserable run of form.
The 2020-21 winners had to work hard throughout the 90 minutes and really should have doubled their lead late on when Iheanacho sent a searching low cross to the back post which substitutes Patson Daka failed to connect with.
For Gillingham, a tie against a top-flight team did not end in embarrassment and for large parts of the game, they matched the Foxes’ intensity and tenacity, with the club’s new owner Brad Galinson saying they played with “heart and soul” in a half-time interview.
Galinson and Gills boss Harris will now be focused on trying to keep the club in the Football League and using this performance as the catalyst.
source – BBC