North Shields centre half and last season’s player of the year John Parker powered in an 87th minute header to force extra time in his side’s League Cup encounter at Sunderland RCA.
After a further 30 minutes the score remained 1-1 before the Robins edged a penalty shoot-out 4-3.
The Shieldsmen will now play Willington in the second round after a much changed side gave their all throughout 120 pulsating minutes on Tuesday evening.
Skipper Kevin Hughes was again ruled out through injury while other regulars were rested, but welcomed back into the starting line-up were Gareth Bainbridge to lead the line plus the versatile Curtis Coppen, left sided defender Marc Lancaster and keeper Sean McCafferty after injury in a pre-season game at Spennymoor.
It was a bright and breezy opening 20 minutes for the Robins, who swarmed around the home goal with midfielder Gary Ormston looking particularly sharp.
David Pounder delivered a number of quality set pieces that just begged for a touch and both Ryan Carr then Ryan McGorrigan were both thwarted by the woodwork.
That decisive strike though just would not come and Martin Swales’s gutsy hosts survived and looked the stronger side as the first half closed.
Shields were galvanised with three substitutions – Dan Wilson Adam Forster then Dean Holmes entering the fray.
But they fell behind on 74 minutes when slack defending gave away a penalty and Callum Hope tucked away the spot kick.
Home keeper James Talbot again excelled but he was unable to keep out Parker’s sterling late effort three minutes from time.
In extra time nothing could separate the sides, though the Shieldsmen dominated the second period with Lancaster unleashing two scorching drives that flew agonisingly inches wide.
In the penalty shoot-out, Bainbridge saw Shields’ first effort saved, but McCafferty also kept out Sunderland’s opener.
Ormston then Dan Wilson converted and it was 2-2 after three kicks each.
Holmes blazed over and the hosts netted, but Lancaster kept the Robins’ hopes alive and RCA spurned their chance with their fifth off target.
Amid increasing tension, Coppen saw his drive saved but incredibly RCA missed with what would have been another ‘winning’ kick.
Jack Walker, though, made no mistake with Shields’ seventh then McCafferty was to be his side’s hero as he brilliantly saving again to get the Robins were chirping once more.
North Shields: McCafferty, Walker, Lancaster, Coppen, Parker, Coulson, Ormston, Carr (Holmes), Bainbridge, McGorrigan (Wilson), Pounder (Forster). Subs not used: Bannon, Donnison.
On Saturday Shields are away to high-flying Morpeth in the Northern League, kick-off 3pm.