Aiden McGeady strike settles tight contest and gets Sunderland back on track in League One race
Sunderland got back to winning ways in League One with a narrow victory over AFC Wimbledon.
Aiden McGeady's fine finish settled a tight contest in which Sunderland often struggled to play with fluidity.
Their first league win since New Year's Day was nevertheless very welcome and with three games in hand on most of their promotion rivals, the table maintains a healthy look for Jack Ross and his side.
Wearside had been boosted by a late surge of deadline day business and new signing Will Grigg was given a rapturous reception as he greeted the crowd pre-match.
Both Grant Leadbitter and Lewis Morgan were given big ovations as they started the game, which began at a breakneck speed and could have easily seen both sides score in the opening ten minutes.
Wimbledon were the first to threaten, Anthony Wordsworth robbing Aiden McGeady of the ball before driving wide from range.
The midfielder then nearly scored an audacious effort, again pouncing on Sunderland hesitation to win the ball. This time he let fly with a bold lob from the halfway line, Jon McLaughlin only just recovering in time to palm wide.
From the following corner Will Nightingale somehow fired over from inside the six-yard box as a the loose ball dropped.
Despite their carelessness on the ball, Sunderland did have a threat and both George Honeyman and the lively Morgan went close with efforts from the edge of the area.
The game swung from end to end but slowly began to lose its momentum.
Sunderland had most of the ball and Morgan regularly had the beating of his full-back, but the hosts were struggling to create anything other than speculative efforts from distance.
They were fortunate that Nightingale misses again, this time with his head, as another set piece caused problems for the hosts.
The second continued in a similar vein, though the Black Cats were convinced that they should have had a penalty on the hour mark as they claimed a loose corner struck a Wimbledon hand.
Disappointed with Sunderland's attacking threat, Jack Ross threw on Kazaiah Sterling for his Sunderland debut.
It wasn't long until the Black Cats took the lead but they needed a big helping hand from the visitors to do so.
A long pass into the channel should have been easy to deal with, but Tennai Watson couldn't control. The ball fell for McGeady, who ruthlessly and superbly cut inside before firing into the top corner.
That goal settled the hosts but they were indebted to Jon McLaughlin, who saved well as Scott Wagstaff burst into the box.
The Stadium of Light was left nervous when six minutes were added on, but Sunderland saw the game out well, McGeady going closest to another goal when he ran into the box and tested Aaron Ramsdale.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; Matthews, Flanagan, Dunne, James; Power, Leadbitter, Honeyman (O'Nien, 65); McGeady, Morgan (Watmore, 83), Wyke (Sterling, 59)
Subs: Ruiter, Maguire, McGeouch, Baldwin
AFC Wimbledon XI: Ramsdale; Watson (Sibbick, 69), Thomas, Oshilaja, Seddon; Connolly (Jervis, 67), Wordsworth, Nightingale, Wagstaff, Pinnock (Pigott, 74), Appiah
Subs: McDonnell, Hartigan, McDonald, McLoughlin,
Bookings: Oshilaja, 40 Seddon, 68 Wordsworth, 68 Leadbitter, 76