Stevie May took the latest step in his recovery from a serious injury in Preston North End's Lancashire Senior Cup clash with Bolton Wanderers at Leyland's County Ground.
This was the striker's first competitive taste of action since tearing three ligaments in his right knee 12 months ago against Fulham.
He played 70 minutes of this second-round tie, putting in a lively performance and seeing a shot in the second half hit the outside of the post.
May will need a couple more games to get up to the sufficient sharpness needed for first-team football but this was a stride in the right direction.
Unfortunately, it was not a winning start for May as Bolton won on penalties after the 90 minutes produced a 1-1 draw.
Alex Samizadeh fired Bolton ahead in the first half, a lead the hosts held until stoppage-time at the end of the second half when Eoin Doyle equalised for North End.
In the shoot-out which followed, Doyle, Liam Grimshaw and Dylan Davidson all saw their spot-kicks saved by Trotters keeper Will Jaaskelainen.
Hyuga Tanner, Sam Lavelle and George Newell netted their penalties to send Bolton through.
North End fielded an experienced side, nine of the starting XI being from the first-team squad - competition rules are that six players must have professional contracts.
Melle Meulensteen and Josh Earl were the two youth-team players to start, with five other youngsters on the bench.
It was Meulensteen, son of former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen, who had the game's first chance, his shot from outside the box tipped past the post by Bolton keeper Will Jaaskelainen.
May saw an early chance deflect off a defender and go behind, while the Scotsman teed-up a chance for Eoin Doyle which he put wide.
Bolton's first sight of goal was a free-kick which Jeff King drove high over Mat Hudson's bar.
Chris Humphrey found room down the right hand side of the box and hit a shot across goal and just wide of the far post.
Somewhat against the run of play, Bolton took the lead in the 26th minute, albeit with a quality finish.
The ball was worked to Samizadeh on the edge of the box, the winger's low crisp shot beating the dive of Hudson and travelling into the bottom corner.
Samizadeh is on a work experience loan with Chorley at the moment, the deal allowing him still to turn out for Bolton.
Meulensteen, Doyle and Simon Makienok all had chances as North End looked to get back on level terms.
Just before the interval, Humphrey's cross from the right found Makienok at the far post, his downward header pushed out by the keeper, with the ball then scrambled away from May as he looked to reach the rebound.
Twice North End went close with chances within a couple of minutes of each other, the first falling to Doyle who fired into the side-netting from a narrow angle.
May then broke away down the left channel, surged into the box but saw his shot clip the outside of the post and go behind.
Makienok made way for Dylan Davidson after an hour, with May coming off in the 70th minute - Tom Stead replacing him.
In between those changes, Hudson got down smartly to save from Bolton substitute Devarn Green.
Four minutes from time, PNE's Earl got clear in the box, Jaaskelainen pulling off a fine diving save to push the youngster's shot behind.
North End finally found an equaliser a minute into stoppage-time.
Earl's powerful run took him down the right channel, his cross volleyed home by Doyle from six yards.
The shoot-out was not to go Preston's way though, Bolton progressing to the next round.
Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Spooner, Lavelle, Tanner., Honeyball, Willoughby (Green 60), Barrow, Earing, Newell, King, Samizadeh. Subs (not used): Marsh, Lonsdale, White, Aspinall.
PNE: Hudson, Huntington, Spurr, Davies, Humphrey, Grimshaw, Meulensteen (Smart 80), Earl, Doyle, May (Stead 70), Makienok (Davidson 60). Subs (not used): O'Neil, Roberts.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancs)