The FA Cup is said to be a competition doused with a generous dollop of magic.
Boro produced little wizardry on their long trip to Ashington, but midfielder Jimmy Beadle once again opened his bag of goalscoring tricks to make sure they booked their place in Monday’s big draw.
Rudy Funk’s men will still have to do it again though against Ashington in Tuesday’s replay after Beadle’s last-gasp penalty earned a combative 2-2 draw.
Whether Boro did enough to level matters is inconclusive, but on their own patch Funk and his men should be expected to put this duel to bed and look forward to the next round of their cup adventure.
Question marks must still be raised over the team’s defending as a unit, and the switch to a long-ball game must also be ditched as garganuan Ashington defender Richard Flynn had no problem in mopping up everything that was launched his way.
Much of Boro’s success came on the ground, with the quick feet of James Bennett always demonstraing the ability to unlock the Ashington defence.
It was Ashington who started the game in postive fashion, the Northern League side possibly spurred on by last season’s crushing FA Cup defeat at Queensgate.
Some flowing build-up play allowed Glen Taylor some space in the box, but Jason White continued his good start to the season with a solid block of the striker’s shot.
Former Newcastle United man Marc Walton was the orchestrator of Ashington’s better play, despite looking seriously out of his depth 12 months earlier in Bridlington.
After their traditional slow start, Boro seemed to be grabbing the initiative as they put the ball on the deck and played football.
Bennett whipped a free-kick just over, Gary Bradshaw’s corner flew inches past the far post and Chris Bannon clung onto a powerful Beadle volley.
Despite all of this pressure, Boro almost went in at the break a goal behind. Walton smashing a volleyed effort just inches over the bar with White beaten.
Boro failed to learn from this and they conceded just seconds into the new half.
A routine cross-field pass completely undid the Boro defence and Taylor scuffed his effort past the weak hand of White.
Walton was so unlucky not to double this advantage a minute later when Boro parted. The vicious shot crashed against the underside of the bar and was somehow forced clear.
Boro could have crumbled after this, but they dug deep and managed a quick equaliser.
Bennett swung a corner in from the left and Beadle charged in to head powerfully home.
Boro relaxed after the jubilation of this equaliser and Taylor crept in to plant a header that bounced up off the bar and to safety.
And it looked all too simple when Ashington did reclaim their lead after 67 minutes.
Sub Matty Plummer was turned all too easily and Taylor had time and space to roll home the low cross from the right.
This sparked Boro into life and they soon laid seige to the home goal.
The Ashington defence began to groan under the burden, but Boro failed to find that vital finishing touch.
Ben Middleton, Jordan Thewlis and Bradshaw all when close, then striker Bradshaw did put the ball in the net but it was ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
With the game creeping into injury-time, another ball was launched into the Ashington box and it fell to the predatory Beadle. His first-time shot was blocked by the hand of Shaun Gibson and the referee pointed at the spot.
Beadle stepped up and stroked the ball into the corner of the net, despite Bannon getting a hand to it.
This started huge celebrations among the travelling fans, though that joy will turn to tension once again when the teams meet up for a secocnd time on Tuesday.