Sunderland Under-23s drew 1-1 with Rochdale to pick up their first point of the Checkatrade Trophy - with the hosts picking up an extra point after winning the penalty shoot-out.
Robbie Stockdale's side were pushed all the way by League One Rochdale, with the first group game eventually going to a penalty shoot-out.
Under the rules of the competition, both sides pick up a point for the draw with an additional point on offer for the winner of the shootout.
Elliot Embleton had given Sunderland the lead with a stunning strike but Ian Henderson hit back for the hosts at the Crown Oil Arena.
George Honeyman and Tommy Robson both missed in the shoot-out, with Rochdale winning it 4-2.
Jan Kirchhoff and new loan signing Jason Denayer were named in the starting line-up, with Billy Jones and Victor Anichebe not featuring.
With David Moyes watching on from the stands, Sunderland lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with George Honeyman supporting 17-year-old Josh Maja up front.
It was Rochdale though that forced the early pressure, Max Stryjek pushing away a Peter Vincenti header - although the 20-year-old made a meal of his save, in truth.
Denayer then had to clear from in front of his own goal after a mix up in communication between captain Tommy Robson and Stryjek saw the ball fly across the face of goal.
Denayer was on hand again after 10 minutes to first block a Peter Vincenti effort before getting up to clear the danger in robust fashion.
Four minutes later, Sunderland had the ball in the net, Maja prodding home Rees Greenwood's scuffed effort but the flag was correctly raised for offside.
Captain for the night Tommy Robson was getting forward at every opportunity to support Greenwood down the left flank, while Vincenti continued to cause the Sunderland defence problems.
Dale captain Ian Henderson shot wide 22 minutes in after being played in by Callum Camps, Vincenti again winning a header in the build-up.
Rochdale dominated possession in the opening half hour but Sunderland edged their way back into the game - which lacked quality and goalmouth action.
Stryjek was called into action five minutes before the break, flying to his right to punch wide a Camps 30-yard free-kick.
Vincenti then nodded wide from a Dale corner.
Sunderland finished the half strongly, George Honeyman forcing Josh Lillis into a save, palming his 20-yard effort over the bar before Kirchhoff headed an Ethan Robson free-kick wide.
Half-time: Rochdale 0 Sunderland Under-23 0
Sunderland were almost behind within five minutes of the re-start, Ledger slicing the ball onto his own crossbar from Joe Rafferty's cross.
A minute later they were in front. Elliot Embleton with a superb finish past Lillis in the Rochdale goal.
The 17-year-old played a one-two with Maja on the edge of the area before curling the ball into the left-hand corner of the net with a fine left-footed finish.
Sunderland only held the lead for seven minutes, Dale captain Henderson bundling home a fierce Jamie Allen free-kick from close range after 58 minutes.
Rochdale then cranked up the pressure, with Stryjek saving well from a Vincenti free header from another Dale corner.
With 15 minutes left, sub Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was played in by Henderson but as he shaped up to shoot, Ledger got across to produce a brilliant block.
Rochdale had a goal chalked off with just over 10 minutes to go - Henderson produced a brilliant strike that hit the post and Allen knocked in the rebound.
But he was flagged offside.
Stryjek - who had impressed in the Sunderland goal - was forced into another save, denying Henderson's low volley.
Rochdale ended the game strongly, with sub Samni Odelusi curling an effort inches over Stryjek's crossbar in added-on time.
The game ended 1-1 and Rochdale won the penalty shoot-out 4-2 to gain an additional bonus point.
Penalties: 1-0 (Davies), 1-0 (Honeyman missed), 2-0 (Rafferty), 2-1 (Kirchhoff), 3-1 (Bunney), 3-1 (T.Robson missed), 3-1 (McGahey mised), 3-2 (Greenwood), 4-2 (Odelusi).
Full-time: Rochdale 1 Sunderland Under-23 1
Rochdale (4-3-3): Lillis, Rafferty, McGahey, Canavan, Tanser, Allen, Lund (Mendez-Laing, 64), Camps, Vincenti (Davies, 64), Bunney, Henderson (C) (Odelusi, 82).
Subs Not Used: Logan, McNulty, McDermott, Davies, Keane.
Booked: Nelson (73)
Goals: Henderson (58)
Sunderland Under-23s (4-2-3-1): Stryjek, J Robson, T Robson (C), Ledger, Denayer, E Robson, Kirchhoff, Embleton (Molyneux, 83), Honeyman, Greenwood, Maja (Nelson, 72).
Subs Not Used: Pain (GK), Beadling, Brady, Casey, Wright.
Goals: Embleton (51),
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)
Attendance: 1, 184