Sunderland got their Leasing.Com Trophy campaign off to the perfect start as they defeated Grimsby Town 3-2 at the Stadium of Light.
A crazy second half saw five goals, with Matt Green putting the away side ahead before Duncan Watmore equalised.
The Black Cats went ahead through Marc McNulty but were pegged back through Elliott Whitehouse before Will Grigg got the winner late in the game.
That win means that Sunderland are off to a perfect start in the competition that they came so close to winning last season.
The first chance of the game fell to the home side on 10 minutes as a long Lee Burge goal kick found McNulty who teed up Luke O’Nien, but his effort went over the top of the Grimsby goal.
Sunderland began to turn the screw and nearly took the lead on 18 minutes through Grant Leadbitter as he tried a curling effort from just inside the box that was tipped over by James McKeown.
It was Leadbitter again who nearly broke the deadlock on 22 minutes as he tried to chip the keeper from outside the area, but his effort went just wide of the post.
Grimsby had their first chance of the game on 24 minutes as Green fired a low effort from the penalty spot that was well saved down to Lee Burge’s left.
The resulting counterattack saw the Lads come close as the returning Duncan Watmore cut inside on the right channel and fired a shot that was headed off the line by Harry Davis.
10 minutes later and Watmore again came close as he drove through the midfield and tried his luck from outside the area, but his shot was well saved down to McKeown’s right corner.
The second half started at a frantic pace and Sunderland nearly took the lead on 47 minutes through Watmore.
Denver Hume got past his man on the left wing and fired a low cross into the area which Watmore met, but the keeper pulled off a great save with his feet to deny the returning striker.
Two minutes later, and Sunderland nearly scored again this time through Luke O’Nien. Some great play between Grigg and Leadbitter eventually saw O’Nien set up and he fired an effort from just outside the area past the left post.
Sunderland continued to dominate their opponents without reward and came close again on 58 minutes through McNulty who fired an effort over the bar from just outside the area after some great play in midfield.
It was to be the away side that broke the deadlock though against the run of play on 59 minutes.
Substitute Jake Hessenthaler picked the ball up on the right wing and crossed a pinpoint ball onto Green’s foot and he was able to finish past a helpless Burge.
It only took Sunderland nine minutes to reply though, as the returning Watmore got himself on the scoresheet.
The Black Cats were consistently pressuring their visitor’s and a powerful McNulty effort was parried by McKeown and Watmore chased the rebound down an fired the ball past the keeper to equalise.
On 79 minutes, Sunderland got themselves ahead through McNulty.
A great ball from the cross-field ball from George Dobson found O’Nien who beat his man and fired a ball across goal which found McNulty and he duly fired the ball in via a deflection.
The Mariners got themselves level just two minutes later through Whitehouse as he finished off Mattie Pollock’s cross from the left wing.
But Sunderland went back ahead in the 86th minute as Grigg netted his second goal of the season.
Denver Hume got down the left channel and hit an inch-perfect cross onto the head of Grigg, and he steered it past the keeper to put Sunderland back ahead.
Some late Grimsby pressure was dealt with comfortably by the hosts and they claimed a deserved 3-2 victory.
Sunderland: Burge, Mumba (Gooch 82), Lynch, Taylor, Hume, Watmore (Connelly 89), Dobson, Leadbitter, O’Nien, McNulty, Grigg (Kiernan 90)
Subs: De Bock, Bainbridge, Patterson, Neil
Grimsby: McKeown, Ring, Davis, Pollock, Hewitt, Rose (Hessenthaler 56), Whitehouse, Cook, Vernam (Cardwell 63), Ogbu, Green
Subs: Gibson, Waterfall, Russell, Starbuck, Adlard