RITCHIE Humphreys celebrated his 10 years at Hartlepool United in front of 5,757 fans but it was Premier League Sunderland who ran out 3-1 winners.
The 33-year-old received a spine-tingling reception from both sets of supporters crammed inside Victoria Park as he took to the field with daughter Eliza before kick off.
He eventually made way on 67 minutes to an equally rousing ovation before returning to applause from all four corners of the ground after the culmination of a well-fought affair.
And it was Pools who took the lead after just seven minutes as former Newcastle United star Nobby Solano silenced the boos of the visiting following with his first goal in blue and white.
The winger sprayed a ball out wide to Andy Monkhouse on the left before drifting unnoticed into the penalty area.
Monkhouse, though, had kept track of his team-mate’s movement and duly slid a low ball into his path for the little Peruvian to steer into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Gyan and Stephane Sessegnon combined at the other end as the visitors went in search of a reply, the former lashing over from the latter’s headed knockdown.
Lee Cattermole then skidded a 20-yard drive into the grasp of Scott Flinders on 18 minutes.
The early pace didn’t let up and Monkhouse took aim at Simon Mignolet’s goal from a similar range and was unlucky to clear the frame by a matter of inches.
But the Black Cats did draw level on the half-hour mark, Larsson locating the forehead of Gyan with a right-wing cross and the Ghanaian did the rest with a 10-yard nod into the bottom corner.
There was a strong suspicion of offside but the flag wasn’t forthcoming and the £13m forward had his first of pre-season.
Neither side made any changes during the break and the Wearsiders were ahead within four minutes of the restart.
Kieran Richardson fed the front-running Jack Colback and the flame-haired midfielder drove into the area before seeing a low blast zip off the greasy surface and through the grasp of Flinders.
Steve Bruce’s men extended their advantage one minute shy of the hour mark, Sessegnon’s low drawback missed by both Cattermole and Gyan before Larsson arrived to guide into the bottom corner from eight yards.
The remaining half hour was played out at a much slower tempo with the biggest cheer reserved for Humphreys’ departure and the late guest appearance of Pools coach Micky Barron.
Pools: Flinders, Austin (Holden 74), Collins (Johnson 85), Hartley (Baldwin 67), Horwood (Haslam 74), Solano (Boyd 67), Liddle (Barron 87), Sweeney (Hassan 85), Monkhouse (Luscombe 59), Nish (Poole 59), Humphreys (Murray 67).
Subs n/u: Rafferty, Richards
Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Richardson, Ferdinand, Brown, Cattermole, Colback, Gyan, Sessegnon, Larsson.
Subs n/u: Laing, Carson, Reed, Cook, Tounkara.