Durham Women claimed a respectable point against local rivals Sunderland – although the Black Cats gained the bonus point in the Continental Cup.
In a cagey encounter, the Wildcats had plenty of chances but were denied by a string of fine saves from their former stopper Rachael Laws.
And after the game finished goalless, Laws was again the hero in the newly-introduced penalty shootout as her three stops handed Sunderland a bonus point.
In front of a packed out New Ferens Park, the early stages saw plenty of midfield action and it took until 26 minutes for the real chance – Emily Roberts getting through on goal before being thwarted by Laws.
Sunderland’s Keira Ramshaw then saw an effort cleared off the line by Sarah Wilson as the Black Cats ended the first half strongly.
The visitors continued to push forward after the break, with both Lucy Staniforth and Dominique Bruinenberg taking range from distance but failing to trouble Helen Alderson.
Simona Koren then sprung the offside trap only to fire into the side while Durham substitute Abi Cottam poked narrowly wide after intercepting a weak defensive header.
As the game reached its dying stages, Ramshaw was denied by the post after a scramble at the back stick before Cottam had a golden opportunity to seal victory – racing through on goal only for some more brilliance from Laws saw her make the save.
With the game goalless at the end of 90 minutes, both teams pocketed a point in Group 1 – but penalties were taken to give a bonus point to the winners.
And it was Sunderland who claimed that extra point thanks to Laws, who denied Zoe Ness, Cottam and Lauren Briggs from the spot.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats gained a point against higher-level opposition and start the Continental Cup with a promising performance.
Wildcats XI: Alderson, Johnson, Wilson, Hepple, Ness, Gears (Worthington), Atkinson (Cottam), Roberts (Christon), Briggs, Hill, Lee
Subs Not Used: Borthwick, Dalgliesh, Gibson, Jordinson