There will have been times over the last 18 months that Fraizer Campbell will have wondered whether he would ever know the thrill of scoring a goal for Sunderland again, let alone a vital equaliser in a north east derby.
After two serious knee injuries, the second shortly after he had returned to full training following surgery to repair the first, Campbell had not played a first-team game since August 2010.
Still desperately short of match fitness, there was nothing remotely rusty about his finish as he guided a first-time shot into the bottom corner with just over half an hour left to play in a cup tie Sunderland had been second best in for long spells.
Even after their equaliser from Campbell, brought on at half-time for the anonymous Connor Wickham, Sunderland failed to put Boro under enough pressure to force a winner and Tony Mowbray's side fully deserve a second crack at Sunderland.
There was still plenty of frustration for the Teessiders and Mowbray revealed their goalscorer, Barry Robson, had thrown his Man of the Match champagne in the bin when he returned to the dressing-room. It was Robson's loose pass in midfield that allowed James McClean to run into space and cross for Campbell to score.
The Black Cats, however, will not be clear favourites in the replay after this performance. "I'm delighted to still be in the cup," said Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill. "We were sloppy in the first half but there was more urgency from us in the second half and I'm delighted for Fraizer to get the goal."
Sunderland's uninspiring start was epitomised by their captain John O'Shea. The Waterford man had a lucky escape in the third minute when his poor clearing header fell to Scott McDonald on the edge of the area, but he shot straight at Simon Mignolet. O'Shea's distribution from the back was consistently poor in the first half and he was punished by Robson.
A lazy pass was cut out by Faris Haroun and while O'Shea got back to head the ball away from Marvin Emnes, it again fell straight to the Boro player and Robson's volley was clinical.
Sunderland finished strongly, but Boro defended superbly, with their captain Matthew Bates outstanding at centre-back and McClean's shot into the side netting was as close as they came to winning it in stoppage-time. (© Daily Telegraph, London)