Nuneaton Borough 1 Middlesbrough 1
Nuneaton paraded some of the stars of yesteryear before what was billed as the biggest game in their history.
But now the team of 2006 will surely be remembered for the greatest display in Borough's 69-year existence.
It was not just the fact that they earned financial salvation with a replay at Riverside a week tomorrow, but it would have been the biggest injustice since Maradona's Hand of God if they had not booked a second meeting with Middlesbrough's Premiership stars.
Instead it was the foot of Gez - after the hand of Southgate - that earned the most dramatic of conclusions to a rip-roaring contest.
Former Aston Villa defender Gareth Southgate had escaped one earlier appeal when he bundled over Mark Noon early in the second half but he was not so fortunate when Michael Frew whipped in a left-wing cross in the 89th minute and the ball hit Southgate's thigh and then hand.
Suddenly the penalty award became the richest single kick in the club's history but amid the cauldron of expectation from a sell-out 6,000 crowd, top scorer Gez Murphy showed ice-cool calmness to slot home an equal-iser worth around £250,000.
Such a figure barely pays for a Middlesbrough player's winter wardrobe but it was rags to riches for the Nationwide North side.
"Days like this and matches like this show the fairytale of the FA Cup," said defender Terry Angus. "We will enjoy it for the rest of our lives."
Fellow centre-back and skipper Neil Moore added: "What we have achieved today is absolutely amazing because people didn't give us a chance. But every player in a Nuneaton shirt has been a hero today."
And no one, least of all Southgate, could suggest Roger Ashby's side did not deserve it.
"It's Nuneaton's day - they were worthy of a draw," he said.
The statistics tell their own story. The two Boros might be separated by 100 places in the leagues, and vaultfuls of money, but Nuneaton had more possession, created more chances, and had more shots on goal. The Cock and Bear
End summed it up with a chorus of "Premiership? You're having a laugh!"
Murphy, goalkeeper Darren Acton and winger Stuart Whittaker - the three brightest lights in a sparkling display - and the rest of Boro's braves will be smiling all the way up the A1(M).
Murphy's all-action approach up-front never gave Southgate a moment's rest and the striker, Nuneaton born-and-bred, could have finished with a hat-trick. Within two minutes, he latched on to Brian Quailey's clever pass but visitors keeper Brad Jones blocked at the near post and then the Australian shot-stopper was well-placed to gather a side-footed 20-yarder.
Jones had to be at his best to flip over a stinging Murphy drive with his finger-tips and also turn away a dipping volley from the elusive Whittaker.
Yet it was Middlesbrough who led at the interval after a moment of brilliance from Gaizka Mendieta. A rash challenge by Angus flattened Yakubu 25 yards from goal on the quarter-hour mark and the Spaniard, a former European Cup finalist, wreaked his revenge with a swirling free-kick that gave keeper Acton no chance.
Acton, though, then rescued Nuneaton with three saves combining bravery and agility. He raced from his line to deny James Morrison when he cut in from the right and then saved from Yakubu after Rob Oddy's error let in the £7 million striker before he was equal to a breakaway chance from Stuart Parnaby.
But Middlesbrough barely registered an attack in the second half as the hosts pegged them back inside their own half.
Jones parried Whittaker's 20-yard, Moore headed over and then Southgate seemed to clip Noon's ankle as he controlled Oddy's right-wing cross but referee Mike Dean ignored the penalty appeals that could be heard right across Warwickshire.
When Micky Love rifled a long-range effort just over, it seemed Boro had held on. But Nuneaton's FA Cup run has been typified by back-from-the-brink results - three previous games had been saved by last-minute goals - and a Middlesbrough team including six internationals found themselves in the same company as Histon, Tiverton and Chelmsford.
Justice was done when Southgate was punished and Murphy tucked away his 13th goal of the season by sending Jones the wrong way with his spot-kick. Not even George Eliot, the Victorian novelist from Nuneaton, could have imagined such magical moments and romance.
Ashby said: "I know it's a draw but it feels like a win. It's my proudest moment in football."
Nuneaton's entire squad would echo that sentiment.