Brentford and Southend United will meet again to decide who will reach the Fourth Round of the FA Cup with Budweiser after a 2-2 draw in Essex.
The Bees went 2-0 up in the first half but Southend pulled one back within seconds of Brentford taking a two-goal lead and then equalised after half time.
Southend are pushing for promotion from npower League Two and have one victory over The Bees – in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – to their credit this season.
Add in a pitch that suited Southend’s direct style and hindered Brentford’s attempts to pass the ball and the ingredients were there for a cup upset.
For half an hour Southend arguably held the upper hand but Brentford soon started taking the pitch out of the equation when they could and were the better for it.
They looked set to progress but Southend equalised in controversial circumstances and the teams will have to do it all again at Griffin Park in a replay provisionally set for January 15.
Gavin Tomlin was Southend’s main threat in the first 30 minutes, he had an early near post shot saved, a low one kept out by Simon Moore soon after and shot over from the edge of the box while Marc Laird volleyed over from 25 yards.
The former Brentford striker should have put the hosts ahead when Southend broke from a free kick; Tomlin found himself one-on-one with Tony Craig and opened his body up for a shot only to put it wide of the far post.
Another former Bee, central defender Mark Phillips, headed just past his own post early on and Tom Adeyemi and Sam Saunders had shots blocked for the visitors.
Adeyemi was bursting in to the box from a midfield position – he had a shot deflected wide and then missed the target on the volley from the resulting corner.
Southend had the upper hand and midway through the half they started to press The Bees back.
There were a number of scrambles in the penalty area and Brentford were living on the edge.
A Laird short deflected over, Harlee Dean blocked a Barry Corr header and Michael Timlin shot wide.
But it was Brentford who scored the first goal, against the run of play over the preceding ten minutes.
Jake Bidwell and Clayton Donaldson combined on the left and the ball was fed in to the middle to Jonathan Douglas and then Paul Hayes, his ball was dummied superbly by Saunders and Adeyemi strode on to it before slotting home.
Saunders had a shot blocked soon after and then fired over while Phillips headed straight at Moore at the other end.
The Bees doubled the lead 38 minutes in when a corner was half cleared, Saunders put a dangerous ball in and Ryan Cresswell headed it in to his own net under pressure from Donaldson.
But any thoughts the game was over were dispelled within seconds – Sean Clohessy overlapped on the right and crossed to the far post where Corr powerfully headed home.
The goal gave Southend a boost for the last minutes of the first half and they had chances to be level before the break.
They almost equalised when a free kick was flicked on by Corr, Cresswell challenged Moore and as the ball dropped the Brentford goalkeeper scrambled it away.
In another scramble soon after, Laird couldn’t profit and when Clohessy put in another ball in stoppage time Brentford just about got it clear and took their lead in to the break.
They came close to extending it after half time when Douglas shot wide and Phillips turned a Donaldson cross over his own bar but a controversial goal gave Southend parity.
Kevan Hurst delivered a free kick from the right and Brentford stepped out en masse, leaving the Southend attackers offside, however, assistant referee Mathew Bounassisi kept his flag down and Corr headed home from 12 yards.
Brentford appealed, justifiably claiming their move up had left the attackers offside, but the goal was given.
Southend flew forward, sensing Brentford were frail for a moment.
Tomlin went through after Dean and Craig had collided but shot wide with only Moore to beat and the striker turned a Timlin shot wide soon after.
Corr headed wide and Hurst had a flicked header saved but Brentford regrouped.
The Bees introduced Harry Forrester and Marcello Trotta, switched to the 4-1-4-1 system that has served them well in recent weeks and started to press.
Paul Smith prevented Phillips scoring an own goal while Tomlin had a shot blocked at the other end.
Douglas headed a Bidwell free kick wide when well-placed and Donaldson shot straight at Smith after being put through by Adeyemi.
Smith saved a shot from Trotta on the turn but there was a better one at the other end from an Elliot Benyon header.
Forrester shot over late on for The Bees but neither team could find a winning goal and will meet again at Griffin Park.
Southend United: Smith: Clohessy, Cresswell, Phillips, Prosser; Hurst, Laird, Woodyard, Timlin; Tomlin, Corr (sub Benyon 78 mins)
Subs (not used): Bentley, Straker, Eastwood, Martin, Spicer, Barker
Bookings: Woodyard (71 mins)
Brentford: Moore; Hodson, Dean, Craig, Bidwell; Adeyemi (sub Reeves 78 mins), Douglas, Forshaw; Saunders (sub Forrester 68 mins); Hayes (sub Trotta 71 mins), Donaldson
Subs (not used): Gounet, Logan, Barron, Diagouraga
Attendance: 5,540 (1,323 Bees fans)
By Chris Wickham