Sunderland fell to a 2-1 defeat against Charlton Athletic after a poor afternoon at the Stadium Of Light.
That result means that the Black Cats’ automatic promotion hopes are no longer in their own hands with Hull City and Peterborough United both winning their fixtures.
Lee Johnson made three changes for this one as Josh Scowen, Lynden Gooch and Aiden O’Brien come into the side to replace Grant Leadbitter, Jordan Jones and Ross Stewart.
As for Nigel Adkins’ side it was an unchanged side from the victory over Doncaster Rovers last week.
Charlton made their intentions known immediately as a long ball up to Jayden Stockley posed problems to the Sunderland defence, however the Black Cats did the same moments later as Aiden McGeady found Charlie Wyke with a sublime flick with the striker’s effort going wide of the mark.
Wyke found himself through on goal again after 10 minutes as he capitalised on an error from Darren Pratley but had his chipped effort well saved by Ben Amos in the visiting goal.
Charlton went agonisingly close to opening the scoring themselves moments later as a teasing cross came off the head of Luke O’Nien who was saved only by the post before the ball was scrambled away for a corner.
Amos made another glorious save just before the midway point in the first half as he somehow kept out Aiden O’Brien’s header from point-blank range.
But the Addicks took the lead after 32 minutes when Ryan Inniss fired a header at goal which was fumbled by Lee Burge before Josh Scowen fired the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1-0.
Wyke had another effort saved moments later, before McGeady’s shot was deflected over the bar for a corner which came to nothing.
The second half started in the same way that the first ended, with Sunderland having the better of the play; but despite dominating possession they were struggling to create clear-cut chances.
McGeady had a couple of efforts at goal but both were from outside of the area and failed to threaten Amos’s net.
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Sunderland made four alterations as Jordan Jones, Conor McLaughlin, Denver Hume and Ross Stewart all came on, but while they were getting the second two prepared the Addicks doubled their lead as Alex Gilbey slotted under Burge to make it 2-0.
Lee Johnson’s side looked devoid of confidence after the second goal went in but found a route back into the game when a series of blocked shots saw Scowen score with a fortunate 20-yard diving header into an empty net.
That goal clearly gave Sunderland a boost as they pushed forward in the final 10 minutes of the match but some resolute defending from Adkins’ side ensured that the London side took all three points to keep their play-off hopes alive.
As for the Black Cats, Johnson’s side will now be praying that either Hull City or Peterborough United slip up in the final weeks of the season – otherwise they’ll be facing the lottery of the play-offs.