Carlisle United put on a great performance at the Stadium of Light as they pushed Sunderland all the way for the right to progress to round four of this season's FA Cup competition.
But it was the Black Cats who won through as they stayed patient and grabbed two second half goals to send their stubborn visitors packing.
United kicked off to a loud chorus of chants from the packed away section of the ground and they were immediately on the front foot as Noble fed Amoo on the right flank. He went past one but was stopped in his tracks as he tried to make his way into the box.
Another quick break involving Guy, Buaben and Amoo brought the first corner of the afternoon but Wes Brown jumped high to head it clear.
Sunderland slowed the pace of the game down and Sean O'Hanlon had to time his sliding interception right as Altidore bent his run to meet a through pass from Ki. The Black Cats came again moments later with a neat passing move and Buaben survived loud home appeals for a penalty as he nicked the ball off Gardner just inside the area.
Both teams were guilty of conceding possession in good areas as the game became scrappy but Johnson showed guile to create space for a cross with United light at the back. Ehmer put it behind for a corner and Larsson disappointed with a wayward shot which was always going wide when the half clearance landed at his feet.
The first clear cut opening of the day came on 17 minutes when Altidore took a defence splitting pass in his stride. Fleming stayed big and completed a fantastic save as the big forward bore down on goal.
Carlisle picked up the loose pieces and sprang forward and a blocked Potts delivery fell nicely for Amoo to clip back into the mix. Noble stepped forward to put his boot through it as Sunderland struggled to clear but a brave interception robbed him of his moment of glory. The action ebbed and flowed and Ji Dong-Won was frustrated by another double block as Ehmer and O'Hanlon closed ranks.
The Cumbrian contingent were on their feet on 22 minutes when Prince Buaben twisted and turned his way into the box. His shot went through legs and had to be clawed away from the bottom corner by a full stretch Vito Mannone. Tom Lawrence hooked the punched corner clearance back into the area and Amoo watched in hope as his looped header was plucked out of the sky by the attentive stopper.
A long ball forward from defence brought an unexpected opening for Robson as he controlled the ball on his chest. It was on his right foot and he was frustrated to see it bobble harmlessly wide.
The Black Cats enjoyed a good spell either side of the half hour and Fleming completed another excellent save to deny Gardner as he let fly from 22 yards. The pressure was on from the corner and Celutska asked for more from Altidore as he worked hard to recover the ball wide on the right. The striker had his back to goal and miscued his connection as he spun to volley it goalwards.
Set pieces were a constant danger and Ji Dong-Won was a millimetre away from getting the touch he needed as Larsson curled a beauty across the face of the six yard box.
Disaster struck on 33 minutes when Dossena hit the floor within shooting distance for left footer Adam Johnson. Greg Fleming had no chance as the bullet free kick angled over the wall before finding its way into the top corner.
Heads didn't drop and Ki Sung Yeung was mightily relieved when he fell deep to deal with a cross from Berrett. Under pressure from Robson he tried to control it with his thigh, and he was a whisker away from guiding it into his own net.
United's resilience and persistence paid off just before the break when David Amoo mesmerised the back line with a wonderful run. His cross had the keeper in state of panic but Matt Robson kept his head, took a touch and rifled the bouncing ball into the back of the net off the underside of the bar.
Carlisle looked confident and Buaben and Amoo combined to open things up once more on the stroke of half time. Berrett checked his run and he was well placed to pick up the ricochet as Amoo went for the target. Mannone was wrong-footed but he scrambled across to deal with the deflected shot.
The Cumbrians were quick out of the blocks again after the break and an early corner had to be dealt with as United flooded the box. Ehmer and O'Hanlon challenged but Brown stepped in to loft the ball away.
But United were dealt a cruel on 50 minutes when Adam Johnson sent a first time volleyed cross back across the face of goal. Sean O'Hanlon had to stretch to try to block it and he was visibly devastated when it spun up off the top of his boot and into the far corner of the net.
Carlisle responded by taking the game to their hosts and an inch perfect through ball from Noble took Potts to the byline. His cross was hacked clear as Guy waited to strike.
The Black Cats slowed the pace of the game whenever they had possession and United had to stay patient as goalmouth action became hard to find. Substitute Duncan Watmore almost marked his arrival with a memorable goal when he ran from deep at the heart of the defence. A one-two back heel from Altidore left the goal at his mercy but Fleming closed the angles and made a fantastic two-handed save.
United were forced to bide their time but a mistake high up the pitch gave Symington a chance to go on a run. He made his way down the touchline but his cross was cleared by Brown as Miller jumped to challenge.
The Premier League strugglers were happy to keep the ball as the clock ticked down but they still looked a threat as they sent balls into the area. Altidore was once more foiled when he got onto the end of a flick but he couldn't get it out from under his feet and Fleming gratefully pulled it into his chest.
Sunderland defended their lines well and a whipped cross from Robson typified the visiting frustration as it was cleared on the rebound with five blue shirts waiting for their chance.
The United contingent applauded their players off the park at the final whistle having seen a hard working and determined display which, in the end, wasn't quite enough as Ba made sure of the result when he ran through to slide a late goal under the stranded Greg Fleming.
Sunderland - Johnson (33), O'Hanlon (og 50), Ba (90)
Carlisle United - Robson (42)
Carlisle United - O'Hanlon (29)
Sunderland - Mannone, Gardner, Dossena, Ki (Bardsley 63), Brown, Celustka, Larsson (Ba 80), Colback, Johnson, Ji (Watmore 63), Altidore. Subs - Fletcher, Pickford, Giaccherini, Borini.
Carlisle United - Fleming, Potts, O'Hanlon, Ehmer, Robson, Buaben, Noble (Symington 69), Berrett, Amoo, Guy (Miller 69), Lawrence (Townsend 83). Subs - Brass, Beck, Meppen-Walter, Chimbonda.
Referee - Mr Neil Swarbrick
Attendance - 21,973 (5,631 away fans)