Tamworth 1 Stoke City 1 (aet; Stoke win 5-4 on penalties)
Tamworth let the performance do the talking and proved why they should have been the headline act in this week's television replays.
Chairman Bob Andrews and manager Mark Cooper had told anyone who would listen that The Lamb would provide the true spirit of the FA Cup in this week's third-round replays.
The television executives at Sky Sports and the BBC obviously disagreed and plumped for Leeds United versus Wigan Athletic - hardly one to excite the neutrals - and Burton Albion's rematch at Manchester United as their live broadcasts.
But a heaving, screaming Lamb was where the romance of the greatest competition flourished. The only disappointment was that there was no Barbara Cartland happy-ending for Cooper's Nationwide Conference heroes after Stoke City edged a dramatic sudden-death penalty shoot-out.
Nathan Jackson's tap-in - the teenage striker's second goal for the club - had sent the Tamworth fans into dreamland when just before half time in a rip-roaring tie.
But with ten minutes left Paul Gallagher's acrobatic overheard equaliser grabbed Stoke's get-out-of-jail card in the town where Sir Robert Peel formed the first police force nearly 200 years ago.
After Dave Bampton, Scott Stamps and Adie Smith all scored their kicks, Lambs' full-back Eddie Anaclet's fourth penalty was saved by Steve Simonsen to give them the edge. But Tamworth, who have defeated Bournemouth and Hartlepool in their best Cup run, have a never-saydie spirit and shot-stopper Scott Bevan kicked out Kevin Harper's effort to level.
It was so cruel that one player which have to carry the burden of missing a fateful kick and it was more heartbreaking that man-ofthe-match Michael Touhy should have the first kick of sudden death blocked by Simonsen. Carl Hoefkens kept his nerve and Stoke will face Walsall in the fourth round.
The opening stages of the first half had been more cat and mouse than a rerun of Tom and Jerry. There was even the appearance of a runaway mouse, his slumber disturbed by 4,000 screaming fans before Smith took on the game-keeper role to deposit the errant rodent to the stand.
But skipper Smith, like his team-mates, had to play like tigers to keep out the Stoke attacks. But whether it was luck, or wastefulness from the visitors, or an unshakeable spirit, they were able to repel the Potters' best efforts.
Yet it had seemed the Potters' class of 2006 would find their way into infamy alongside the teams which had been upset by non-Leaguers Blyth Spartans, Telford United, and Nuneaton Borough.
Stoke will wonder, however, how Gallagher sent a flying header over from Harper's perfect far-post cross on 26 minutes and how he hooked over with the goal gaping from Dave Brammer's deep cross. Bevan used every inch of his 6ft 7in frame to tip Luke Chadwick's 20-yard volley on to the bar.
Having scored only 27 goals all season, Tamworth have found goalscoring a problem this term. Having lost "talisman" Jake Edwards after his loan ended, it was going to be even more of a challenge to break down the Stoke defence.
But on 42 minutes the Lamb erupted with the goal being the most important in the Lambs' history. It was all about perseverance as striker Carl Heggs, an inspirational presence after being recalled, charged down a clearance on the right.
The wily former West Bromwich Albion campaigner picked out Jackson and he calmly side-footed into the net from eight yards.
Tamworth had something as precious as a 24-carat diamond to protect after the break but it became backs-tothe-wall stuff when Gallagher's curling 20-yarder was a lick of paint away from the target and only the bravest of brave blocks by Smith kept out substitute Peter Kopteff's close-range drive.
It was edge of the seat stuff when Mamady Sidibe's low grubber ricocheted off the right-hand post and Bevan managed to gather as the Mali-born centre-forward stampeded goalwards for the rebound.
There was no lucky escape, however, on 81 minutes. Bevan parried substitute Rooney's point-blank header from Kopteff's corner but the ball looped into the air and
Gallagher flicked it over his head into the net. The drama, though, was far from over.