It did not take long for Steve Coppell to get over Albion's magnificent, backs-to-the-wall performance in such exalted company ultimately counting for nothing.

Minutes after this bravest of efforts by his team he was putting it to bed and focusing on what really matters, points at Hartlepool on Saturday.

Firstly though he rightly paid tribute to his players. Forcing Premiership Boro into extra time is no mean achievement in itself, but it was the way Albion did it which particularly pleased the manager.

"We were certainly not disgraced," Coppell said. "We gave a good account of ourselves and we tried to play, rather than kick and rush and just pressing them into mistakes.

"We were well organised for long periods. They obviously had the lion's share of opportunities but we were still capable of hitting them on the break."

The early impression that the Second Division is not up to much this season is perhaps misleading if results in the second round of the Carling Cup are anything to go by.

Blackpool upset Birmingham, Luton and Swindon came perilously close to doing likewise away to Charlton and Leeds respectively.

Bristol City, QPR and Notts County all progressed against First Division opposition, Rangers scoring an especially noteworthy success at Sheffield United.

The Seagulls never quite suggested they were capable of winning but they made ordinary Boro work awfully hard for a place in round three.

In truth, both sides could have done without extra time. Coppell would probably have preferred an honourable 1-0 defeat in normal time.

At least Albion have not got far to travel for their next assignment. Boro face Southampton next.

A further 30 minutes was required primarily because of the fine form of Michel Kuipers and the resilience of the back four in front of him.

If Kuipers continues in this vein it is going to be terribly difficult for the unfortunate Ben Roberts to win back the No. 1 spot.

It could have been a very different game had Kuipers not kept out Michael Ricketts' angled drive with his legs as early as the seventh minute after the former Bolton forward had been put through by Slovakian Szilard Nemeth.

Danny Mills, on loan for a year from Leeds, was the next to test Kuipers with a well-struck shot from 25 yards midway through the first half, which the diving Dutchman pushed out of harm's way.

To emphasise how well they coped, Albion only came under serious threat once more in the opening 45 minutes, Stewart Downing missing the target by inches as the pressure increased towards the break.

Boro could have been reduced to ten men by then, the ineffective Ricketts escaping with a yellow card for a nasty two-footed tackle on Gary Hart.

The right winger was able to play on after treatment but the signs did not look good when Simon Rodger went down with nobody near him early into the restart.

Richard Carpenter, recalled in place of neck injury victim Charlie Oatway, quickly signalled for a stretcher as Rodger's concerned colleagues gathered around him.

It was an innocuous incident, Rodger twisting awkwardly on the turf as he turned towards the ball.

A floating piece of bone in the left knee was the reason for the former Crystal Palace stalwart's agonising departure.

Coppell explained: "If it gets in the wrong place then it is hellishly painful."

The Seagulls refused to be unsettled. Robbie Pethick demonstrated his versatility by slotting straight into Rodger's role as the left-sided central midfielder.

Steve McClaren was forced into drastic action in an attempt to break the deadlock. He made a double substitution, introducing Malcolm Christie for Downing and Juninho for Ricketts.

Pethick blunted the little Brazilian by doing a man marking job but the other replacement proved to be the matchwinner.

Kuipers made further saves to foil Christie, George Boateng and Jonathan Greening before the former finally found a way past him five minutes into the extra period.

The ex-Derby striker met Greening's cross from the left with a clever flick at the near post, much to the dismay of the accompanying Guy Butters.

He had no reason to reproach himself. Butters and captain Danny Cullip were outstanding at the heart of the rearguard action.

Seven-goal Leon Knight and Chris McPhee, deputising for the unavailable Darius Henderson, were restricted to one chance apiece at the other end.

McPhee's swivelling first half effort was beaten away by Mark Schwarzer, although the referee had already whistled for an infringement by Rodger.

Knight nearly equalised three minutes after Christie's winner with a near post header from a cross by second half sub Dan Harding, which Schwarzer tipped over the bar.

Deep into the first period of extra time Coppell took the opportunity to blood striker Jake Robinson, aged 16 and 336 days.

He is the fourth youngest player to represent Albion in peacetime, behind in ascending order McPhee, Ian Chapman and Simon Fox.

Robinson clearly has a bright future and so suddenly again does Kuipers.

It was double Dutch to him afterwards when he was asked whether the Hartlepool game could be a case of after the Lord Mayor's show. Coppell will not be pleased if it is.

ALBION (4-4-2): Kuipers (gk) 9, Mayo (lb) 7, Cullip (cd) 8, Knight (f) 7, Rodger (cm) 7, Hart (rm) 7, Carpenter (cm) 7, Butters (cd) 8, Jones (lm) 7, McPhee (f) 7, Hinshelwood (rb) 7. Subs: Flitney, Piercy, Harding for Mayo (withdrawn 78), Pethick 7 for Rodger (injured 50), Robinson for Hart (withdrawn 101)

Bookings: None
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Schwarzer, Queudrue, Southgate, Boateng, Nemeth, Greening, Mills, Ricketts, Downing, Doriva, Cooper. Subs: Nash, Stockdale, Riggott for Southgate (injured 18), Juninho for Ricketts (withdrawn 65), Christie for Downing (withdrawn 65).

Scorer: Christie (95)

Booking: Ricketts (37) foul.

Fan's View: Phil Miller (Worthing).

I thought the boys played well. They battled until the end.

We were unlucky to lose to a Malcolm Christie goal, although we were under the cosh at the time and it was a well-worked move.

They should have scored two or three but I thought we could have scored ourselves.

Guy Butters played well again. He was very steady. Michel Kuipers was superb.

Four games ago you would have said he wasn't coming back from Hull but he has put in two good performances since his return and Ben Roberts will be worried about getting his place back now.

Shame about Simon Rodger getting injured but he will battle through.