Max Power salvaged a late draw to hand Sunderland a 1-1 draw against Fleetwood Town at the Stadium Of Light.
That result brings an end to their four-match winning run and sees them miss the opportunity to close the gap on the top two to just one point.
Both sides named an unchanged side from the weekend with the two managers hoping that momentum will be enough to see them through a cold night on Wearside.
It was Fleetwood who carved out the first opening after a mistake from Jordan Willis saw Barrie McKay through on goal only for his effort to be saved by the feet of Jon McLaughlin.
Sunderland weren’t pegged back for long though as the home side won a free-kick which saw Chris Maguire find Tom Flanagan who headed over the bar.
However the visitors soon took the lead when McKay once again pounced on an error inside the area and slotted home after some neat footwork in the box.
Joey Barton was elated with the opening goal as he celebrated wildly in the technical area, but he knew the game was far from over.
For the first time in several weeks, Phil Parkinson’s side appeared to be nervous as they took too long on the ball and invited pressure from the fired-up visitors.
McKay was causing all-sorts of problems as his pace and trickery suggested that the Black Cats’ back line would be in for a long night.
Sunderland were pegged back for long spells in the first half but they did carve out an excellent chance midway through the half when Luke O’Nien teed up Chris Maguire who smashed an effort off the crossbar from a tight angle.
Parkinson’s side started to dominate on the half-hour as they looked to bring O’Nien and Denver Hume into the game and stretch the Fleetwood attack, leading to several nervy spells for Barton’s team.
Lynden Gooch also went close before the break when his prodded effort went just wide of the post.
Sunderland were keen to avenge the first half as they came out for the second period, with Max Power summing up the feeling by throwing Fleetwood Town’s half-time cones and bibs off the pitch as he urged the second half to get started.
Power’s urgency continued as he fired a low effort at goal after 50 minutes but it was easily saved by Alex Cairns.
The home side pushed forward in the second period but were frustrated by a resilient Fleetwood Town defence who appeared to be impossible to break down.
Antoine Semenyo and Kyle Lafferty were both introduced to try and grab a goal but never really made an impact as Joey Barton’s retained control of the game until the end.
However with the last kick of the game Max Power curled home to salvage what could be a crucial point for the Black Cats as their unbeaten run goes on.
Fans at the Stadium Of Light were elated with the late leveller as the momentum of their promotion run continues.
As for Fleetwood it was so nearly a memorable away-day victory, but instead Joey Barton was left to fend off the less-than complimentary chants that were coming his way in the the away dugout.
He won’t mind that too much, but it remains to be seen how costly those two dropped points will be in their quest for the play-offs.
FULL-TIME: Sunderland 1-1 Fleetwood Town