Shaun Harrad's 13th goal of the season proved unlucky for Middlesbrough as the Championship strugglers crashed out of the FA Cup at the Pirelli Stadium. The striker's second goal of the match, three minutes into stoppage time condemned Tony Mowbray's side to the ignominy of a third round exit and catapult the Brewers into the 4th round for the first time in their history.
A nervy first half where the Brewers probably gave their lofty opponents too much respect gave little indication of the fightback to come after Gary O'Neil gave the Teesiders the lead just before the hour mark. Harrad though had other ideas and equalised eight minutes from time before completing his brace and sending the home fans into raptures with the winner.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido made just one change to the side that lost 2-1 to Staffordshire rivals Port Vale on Monday. With James Collins suddenly departing for Shrewsbury Town on Thursday it opened the door for Shaun Harrad, Albion's top scorer to return to the side spearheading the attack.
Middesbrough made a quick start to the game winning the first corner of the game inside ninety seconds to test out the Brewers defence but a confident catch by keeper Adam Legzdins calmed any early nerves. Aaron Webster made an early break down the left only to see his cross blocked.
The visitors threatened again in the seventh minute as left back Joe Bennett intercepted a pass intended for Jacques Maghoma only to be upended by Adam Bolder as he surged forward. Gary O'Neil teed the ball up for Kris Boyd who forced a full length save from Legzdins from at least 25 yards.
Middlesbrough were almost ahead shortly afterwards when full back Justin Hoyte raided forward and tried his luck but a vital deflection from Scott Malone conceded just a corner.
The visitors continued to offer the greater goal threat and only a superb block from Ryan Austin prevented Boyd, the record scorer in Scottish Premier League history, from turning on the ball eight yards out and finding the back of the net.
Albion at last found some attacking relief as Penn advanced down the right but when his cross fell kindly for John McGrath the skipper could not keep his shot down.
Argentine midfielder Julio Arca was next the almot break the deadlock as he found space just inside the penalty area but as the ball ran away from him Albion scrambled the ball away.
Struggling to relieve the pressure Albion almost found themselves behind in the 27th minute when an attempted header back to Legzdins from Austin fell short and Boyd was onto it in a flash to lift the ball across the six yard area but fortunately for the Brewers, Darren Moore wa in the right place to head away as Leroy Lita looked certain to pounce on the loose ball.
Jacques Maghoma tried his luck for Albion just before the half hour mark was reached. Looking for an outball, a pass to Malone was on but he decided instead to turn and shoot but like McGrath before him struggled to keep his shot down. It led to a slightly better spell of pressure for Albion and Aaron Webster pressured the Boro defence into a mistake but having reached the bye line his cross was deflected out of reach of Harrad.
Harrad was quickly closed down as he looked to capitalise on a ball that bounced past the Middlesbrough defence and was then flagged offside as he looked to be getting away again shortly after.
Russ Penn blasted a shot goalwards in the 40th minute and was only foiled by the heels of skipper Matthew Bates to earn Albion's first corner and Penn then found himself in referee Steve Tanner's notebook for a deliberate tug back on Nicky Bailey as he looked to counter attack from Albion's corner.
Legzdins ensured that the sides went in level at half time with another crucial save as Gary O'Neil strode forward in the closing stages of a first half that had failed to live up to the occasion of the FA Cup.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Middlesbrough
Albion made a substitution as half time with Nathan Stanton, presumably still troubled by the knock picked up at Port Vale, making way for Tony James at the heart of the defence.
The Brewers also had a let off as right back Tony McMahon crashed a shot against the angle of post and crossbar and it looked all set for Boro to take the lead when Boyd poked home until the linesman ruled his effort out for offside.
There was a second change for Albion on 53 minutes when skipper John McGrath was replaced by striker Greg Pearson although the formation stayed the same as Russell Penn dropped back alongside Bolder and Pearson moved to the right of the attacking trio.
Moments later and Paul Peschisolido had played his final card with the introduction of Jimmy Phillps for club captain Darren Moore and there was also a re-jig at the back as Ryan Austin moved to centre half and Penn dropped back to right back. The midfielder was instrumental in Albion going behind in the 58th minute as he brought down Leroy Lita outside the box offering Gary O'NEIL the opportunity to curl home a superbly hit free kick past Legzdins.
As Albion looked to clear their heads, particulary after Middlesbrough fans launched a flare onto the pitch, they almost went two behind when Boyd connected with a precise cross from McMahon only to see the ball slide inches wide of the far post. Boro sensed a chance to kill the game off and a dipping 25 yard shot from Lita flew wide of the target as well.
The Brewers had two quickfire penalty claims, both for handball but referee Steve Tanner waved both away. The first came when Bailey appeared to handle on the edge of the box and as the protestations continued Penn surged forward into space and saw his shot apparently hit a Middlesbrough hand.
With eight minutes left Albion finally got their equaliser. Adam Bolder got himself to the bye line and served up a cross into the middle both Shaun HARRAD and Jimmy Phillips launched themselves at the ball but it was the Brewers top scorer who showed the greater desire to divert the ball past the right hand of Danny Coyne into the corner of the net with an overhead kick.
Roll on to stoppage time for a momentous moment in Albion's history. HARRAD won a free kick deep into Middlesbrough territory and when Middlesbrough skipper Matthew Bates failed to deal with Scott Malone's set piece the ball broke kindly to Harrad who lashed a shot too hot for Coyne to handle and send Albion into the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time in their 60 years
GOALS: ALBION - Harrad (82, 90+4), MIDDLESBROUGH - O'Neil (58)