Alfie Steel scored from the spot as Hartlepool United Academy closed 2023 with a draw in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup at home to Rochdale.
Ian McGuckin named five changes to his starting 11 from the last time Pools were in action - nearly a month ago away to Notts County.
Dale created the opening chance of the game as Luke Mann slipped through Will Clift, but the opposition midfielder slotted wide as he bared down on goal.
McGuckin's side broke forward for the first time on 23 minutes. Pools countered from a corner as Millen Burnett sprinted from box to box before squaring to Leo Robinson, who snatched his effort wide.
Rochdale scored the opener before half-time. A corner wasn't completely cleared by Pools, allowing Dale to send a cross back into the danger zone where Isaac Burgess poked home at point-blank range.
Pools found their equaliser with 55 on the clock through Steel. Pools' number nine challenged for a Robinson cross but after the goalkeeper collided with him, Steel stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
And seconds later, McGuckin's side were nearly on top. A corner was directed towards the back post where Millen Burnett's strike was stopped on the line by goalkeeper Lennon MacLorg.
Steel then forced MacLorg into a low save on the hour mark after taking a snapshot on the edge of the box for Hartlepool.
And it was all Pools as the game entered the dying stages. Charlie Berry's high free-kick was headed down by Louis Stephenson before Robinson's shot skimmed the top of the crossbar.
Substitute Ollie Duthie then whipped a ball into the area where Steel tried a low header, only for MacLorg to make a fingertip save in the Rochdale goal.
And the final chance went to Duthie himself. Euan McBride set the full-back inside a crowded six-yard box but his shot fell just wide of the target.
Pools' Academy side return to action on Friday, January 5 with a trip to Bradford City.
Pools: Wilkinson, White, Lynn, Berry, Darcy, Stephenson, Burnett, Robinson, Steel, Kitching, Storey
Subs: McBride, Duthie, Ingram, Grundle, Ormerod
Hartlepool goal: Steel (55)