Grimsby Town's Checkatrade Trophy campaign ended with a loss on penalties to Sunderland Under-21s in front of a crowd of just 248 at Blundell Park.
In what was a largely uneventful contest between two teams already eliminated from the competition before this final group game, the Mariners took the lead from the penalty spot through JJ Hooper with 12 minutes to go.
But their advantage was not to last, as former Manchester United youngster Donald Love scored to make it 1-1 and send the game to a shootout.
And it was the visiors who prevailed 7-6, with substitute Sean McAllister missing the decisive kick for Town.
Grimsby boss Russell Slade changed his entire starting XI after Saturday's FA Cup tie at Plymouth, with another long trip to the south-west at the weekend in mind.
Ben Killip began in goal, with Harry Clifton, Karleigh Osborne, Zak Mills and Sam Kelly forming the defence.
Harry Cardwell started on the right of midfield, with Jamey Osborne and Mitch Rose in the centre and Diallang Jaiyesimi operating on the left, as Hooper and Jamille Matt led the line in attack.
The Grimsby substitutes were Alex McMillan, Emil Powles, Mikey Davis, McAllister, Paul Dixon, Tom Sawyer and James McKeown.
Sunderland's team included former Manchester City and Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell, ex-Wigan attacker Callum McManaman and Love.
The game kicked off in an eerily quiet atmosphere and an early Sunderland corner was cleared before Town launched a break through Jaiyesimi, although that also came to nothing.
A left-wing cross from Kelly was headed out for a Town corner on eight minutes but Jamey Osborne's delivery was cleared by Adam Bale after it had been flicked on.
Another corner soon afterwards brought a better delivery from the returning midfielder and the ball was met by Matt, although his header was cleared off the line.
Striker Luke Molyneux fired wide for the visitors under pressure from 20 yards on 17 minutes, before McManaman cut in from the right two minutes later and shot over the bar from outside the penalty area.
A Town free kick sent into the box looked to have caused problems but was eventually cleared by the Sunderland defence, then Hooper fired into the side-netting after working some space on the half-hour.
A shot from Jaiyesimi was blocked soon afterwards, before McManaman narrowly missed the target with a low, curling attempt at the other end.
Sunderland captain Thomas Beadling had to make a good interception to deny Cardwell a chance after a ball over the top from Jaiyesimi as Town continued to attack.
Then a foul on Jamey Osborne gave the Mariners a free kick in a promising central position, 25 yards out. Hooper played it short to Clifton and he crossed it towards Matt but a defender got to it first.
McManaman was standing out in the Sunderland side and his skill on the right led to a corner for the visitors on 34 minutes. The ball from the flag was headed clear by Kelly but it was worked back and headed behind for another corner by Karleigh Osborne.
A short stoppage came after a foul on Molyneux by Jamey Osborne but the striker was passed fit to continue.
No additional time was played at the end of the half, so the score remained goalless after a first 45 minutes where neither goalkeeper had been called into any serious action.
No changes were made before the restart and within seconds, Jamey Osborne spotted visiting keeper James Talbot off his line and went close with an ambitious long-range effort which clipped the top of the bar on its way over.
The away side had a chance when Jack Diamond set off on a run at pace from the left, cutting in and firing a shot that went just over Killip's bar.
Hooper hit the target with an effort from the edge of the box after playing a one-two with Matt on 58 minutes but his shot was straight at Talbot.
Jaiyesimi was the next to try his luck but could only watch the ball go well over the bar, before a dangerous-looking cross from Brendan Galloway at the other end was cut out for a corner.
Jamey Osborne was shown the first yellow card of the game on 64 minutes for persistent infringement, then a chance almost came for the hosts but Kelly's cross from the left proved to be just too far ahead of Matt and the ball was gathered by Talbot.
McAllister came on to replace Jamey Osborne on 68 minutes, with Sunderland's first change coming seven minutes later as Rees Greenwood came on for Bale.
Town were given an opportunity to open the scoring on 78 minutes when Cardwell was brought down inside the box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. HOOPER stepped up and found the net from 12 yards to make it 1-0.
But the home side's lead was to last less than two minutes, as a good save by Killip from Diamond ultimately went unrewarded when the ball was worked into the box for LOVE to hit a deflected shot that went into the bottom corner.
Jake Hackett was sent on for Sunderland in place of Owen Gamble with eight minutes to go and a penalty shootout starting to loom.
Clifton made way for Powles with three minutes remaining, then a Grimsby attack was thwarted as three additional minutes was signalled.
Neither side could find a winner in that additional time, so the game went to penalties to decide a winner.
Killip saved from Beadling to give Town an early advantage but after Hooper scored, Kelly's kick was saved.
Molyneux and Ethan Robson both scored to put Sunderland 2-1 ahead, with Jaiyesimi levelling the scores with a chip down the middle and Rose making it 3-2 to Town.
Love powered his penalty home to level matters again but after a Sunderland miss, Matt had the chance to win it, only to see his kick saved.
Mills scored, as did substitute Greenwood and Galloway for Sunderland, before Karleigh Osborne also dispatched his spot-kick.
Cardwell's successful kick was matched by Rodwell and Bale for the visitors but McAllister hit the bar with his penalty to hand Sunderland the win.
Town are back in league action on Saturday when they make the long trip to Exeter City.
30 Ben Killip
12 Zak Mills
11 Sam Kelly
14 Karleigh Osborne (C)
16 Jamey Osborne
8 Mitch Rose
15 Harry Clifton
20 Diallang Jaiyesimi
29 Jamille Matt
17 Harry Cardwell
9 JJ Hooper
1 James McKeown
42 Mikey Davies
3 Paul Dixon
40 Alex McMillan
41 Emil Powles
4 Sean McAllister
26 Tom Sawyer
51 James Talbot
22 Donald Love
33 Adam Bale
15 Brendan Galloway
31 Tom Beadling (C)
38 Owen Gamble
52 Luke Molyneux
28 Ethan Robson
8 Jack Rodwell
13 Callum McManaman
39 Jack Diamond
47 Michael Woud
41 Denver Hume
30 Alex Storey
48 Brandon Taylor
37 Rees Greenwood
46 Jake Hackett
49 Daniel Wright
Referee: Scott Oldham