Sunderland Primary Schools Boys produced an impressive all-round performance, only to be denied victory away to unbeaten Harrison Cup leaders Middlesbrough.
Despite the hosts scoring 21 goals in their previous four games, the first half proved to be a close, tense affair, with neither side creating any chances of note.
The second half was equally tight, but Sunderland took the lead when the influential Kailem Beattie fired a shot from distance into the roof of the Middlesbrough net.
Beattie was then denied a stonewall penalty when he was upended in the box, as he was about to shoot when through on goal, with the referee waving away strong appeals from the Sunderland players.
Middlesbrough began to apply pressure, but the defensive trio of Adam Anderson, Will Murphy and Callum Stanton defended resolutely to protect Tye Dobbs in the visitors’ goal.
Sunderland were looking dangerous on the break, with Callum Hughes leading the line intelligently.
But, with only a few minutes remaining, Middlesbrough equalised when the unfortunate Alfie Burnside was penalised for handball when the ball was fired at him from just five yards away.
The resulting free-kick was fired into the area and evaded everyone to nestle in the bottom corner of the net to give the Teessiders an equaliser and deny Sunderland a deserved victory.
The 1-1 result leaves the defending champions Wearsiders with five points from the opening four league games, but their improving form, having beaten previous leaders Darlington, gives real hope for the rest of the season.
Sunderland are next in action on Saturday when they entertain South Northumberland in the Derwent and Medomsley Cup. The venue is still to be confirmed.