Sunderland recorded a potentially crucial 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town at the Stadium Of Light.
That result sees them leapfrop the Tractorboys and move back into the play-off places.
Phil Parkinson made just one change for the clash with Tom Flanagan coming into the defence in place of Joel Lynch who misses out with concussion.
As for the visitors, they made five changes with Tomas Holy, Janoi Donacien, Myles Kenlock, Jon Nolan and James Norwood coming into the starting XI.
It took Sunderland just seven minutes to find the back of the net as Chris Maguire’s cross found Charlie Wyke who prodded home, only to find that the assistant referee had ruled it out for offside.
Ipswich Town also threatened early on as Myles Kenlock and then James Norwood found themselves through on goal after excellent passes in-behind the home defence.
Norwood went close again midway through the half as he fired wide following Will Keane’s lay-off on the edge of the area.
Sunderland looked like a shadow of the side that exuded such confidence in weeks gone by, instead struggling to compete with the Tractor Boys who appeared stronger, faster and technically sharper as they dominated proceedings.
Supporters were growing increasingly frustrated with the performance of the referee stopped them gathering any momentum in the first half, instead being limited to just half chances such as George Dobson’s mis-hit effort from range.
The first half ended with another effort from the visitors as Jon Nolan dragged his effort from range wide of the mark.
The Black Cats were perhaps fortunate to go in level at the break – something which Phil Parkinson will have been keen to enforce at the break.
Sunderland certainly appeared rejuvenated in the second period as Luke O’Nien’s effort was blocked in the first period, before the rebound fell to Denver Hume who was also denied by the sliding challenge of a defender.
Lynden Gooch has the home side’s best chance of the game after some stunning play which saw him jink past numerous members of the Ipswich defence before hitting the post with a placed effort.
The rebound fell to Charlie Wyke, but his tame effort was easily held by Tomas Holy.
Sunderland did breathe a sigh of relief midway through the second period as Tom Flanagan was penalised for a pass-back to Jon McLaughlin, leading to an indirect free-kick 10 yards from goal.
However the hosts were able to scramble the ball to safety, much to the relief of the returning defender.
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Sunderland pushed for the winner and hit the woodwork once again as Bailey Wright rattled the crossbar with a powerful effort from inside the penalty area.
After hitting the frame of the goal twice, it was starting to look like an afternoon that wouldn’t go the Black Cats’ way.
However Sunderland finally managed to grab their breakthrough after 80 minutes when Chris Maguire rifled home from the edge of the area.
Ipwich rarely looked like forcing their way back into the game in the closing stages, leaving Sunderland supporters to celebrate a crucial victory and dream of what could be come the end of the season.
FULL-TIME: Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town