Brentford 1–2 Middlesbrough
It's all to play for at the Riverside next Friday, despite Brentford conceding an injury time winner to sub Fernando Amorebieta in tonight's Championship semi-final first leg.
The Bees had come from behind after going a goal down in the first half, but switched off at the back once more deep into stoppage time and now have to win at Middlesbrough in the second leg.
Brentford had the better of the opening exchanges and had first sight of goal when an Alan Judge belter from the edge of the area palmed wide by Boro keeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.
The visitors, meanwhile, combined a cynical approach, which saw six of their players go into the book, with a dangerous attacking game on the break, and it paid off on 25 minutes.
The Bees only half-cleared a free kick from Grant Leadbitter, and when the ball was whipped back in by Adam Clayton, Brentford's defenders stood off an allowed Jelle Vossen a free header which he buried into the back of the net.
Five minutes later they could have doubled their lead when that man Vossen again found some space in the box from a set piece, and this time poked the ball towards goal, but having seemingly been beaten, Bees keeper David Button got down and superbly scooped the ball off the line.
Brentford's best chance of pulling level before the break fell to James Tarkowski, but his header from Pritchard's free kick was directed just over from six yards out.
Andre Gray went even closer a few minutes into the second half when another Pritchard cross was helped on by Jota, and although the former Luton striker had to take an instant snaps-hot, he should have done better than missing the target from the edge of the box.
However, as much as they have fallen victim to defensive lapses this season, Brentford finally had one go their way when Gray charged down a clearance from Konstantopoulos and found the empty net from a narrow angle with a finish as clinical as his previous effort had been wasteful.
The same player fired just over soon after after creating a chance for himself by cutting in from the right, while at the other end, Button proved his worth again with a brilliant flying save from Albert Adomah's half-volley.
Jonathan Douglas then came close to putting the Bees in front, having Konstantopoulos at full stretch with a header from Jota's delicate chipped cross, while Harlee Dean fired wildly over from another set piece.
But there was to be late heartache for Brentford when an injury time corner was only cleared as far as Amorebieta on the edge of the area, who was not closed down quickly enough and gave Boro a slim lead to take into the second leg.
BEES : Button, Odubajo, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell, Diagouraga, Douglas, Prichard, Judge (Smith 87), Gray, Jota (Dallas 76). Subs not used: Bonham, McLeod, Craig, McCormack, Toral, Smith.