Free weekend for Black Cats sees Sunderland drop a place in League One to lowest ever league position

Sunderland’s free weekend saw the Black Cats slip a place to 13th in League One – the lowest ever league position in the club’s history.
Phil Parkinson.Phil Parkinson.
Phil Parkinson.

Sunderland were originally scheduled to face Bury on Saturday but their expulsion from the EFL earlier in the season meant Phil Parkinson’s side had a free weekend ahead of the busy festive period.

With the Black Cats not in action, results elsewhere meant Sunderland dropped a place to 13th and they are now six points adrift of the play-off places albeit with a game in hand, and two games in hand on some of the teams above.

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Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool saw Sunderland equal their lowest ever position of 12th and the free weekend this time round saw them drop a place further. Sunderland host Bolton Wanderers on Boxing Day.

Elsewhere in League One, managerless Bristol Rovers extended their unbeaten Sky Bet League One run to six matches with a goalless draw against fellow promotion hopefuls Peterborough.

Graham Coughlan, who had led the club to fourth in the table, left the club this week to take over at League Two Mansfield citing family reasons for his decision, before interim boss Joe Dunne followed on Friday evening to become his assistant.

However, the upheaval did not affect Rovers, or new caretaker boss Kevin Maher, as they held on for a point at the Memorial Stadium.

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Peterborough moved up to second in the table following the stalemate after Ipswich were beaten 1-0 at Portsmouth.

A superb individual goal from Ronan Curtis five minutes into the second half proved to be the winner for Pompey, who remain unbeaten at home in the league, as Ipswich's winless run continued into a fifth successive game. Town defender Luke Chambers was dismissed late on.

That was a let-off for leaders Wycombe after they fell to only their second defeat of the season at Oxford.

The U's went ahead through James Henry in the 23rd minute and Wycombe were then reduced to 10 men three minutes later when Adebayo Akinfenwa was sent off for a second bookable offence.

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The Chairboys remain seven points clear at the top, while Oxford moved into the play-off places.

Coventry also moved into the top six following a 1-0 win over Lincoln, with Zain Westbrooke scoring the only goal.

At the other end of the table, Bolton closed to within two points of fellow strugglers Southend after a 3-2 win in the battle of the bottom two.

Southend took a 10th-minute lead thanks to Harry Lennon's header, but the hosts were ahead at the break through Joe Dodoo's fine volley and Luke Murphy's effort on the stroke of half-time.

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Daryl Murphy's sixth goal of the season put Bolton 3-1 ahead before Timothee Dieng grabbed a late consolation.

Gillingham secured their sixth successive home win in all competitions with a 3-1 win over MK Dons in the early kick-off.

Mikael Mandron and Brandon Hanlan scored two minutes apart in the first half to put Gills ahead before Alex Gilbey halved the deficit. Max Ehmer's goal sealed the points for the hosts as the Dons remain in the bottom three.

Tranmere boosted their survival hopes as Rushian Hepburn-Murphy scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory against AFC Wimbledon.

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Ched Evans' brace could only earn Fleetwood a share of the spoils at Rotherham as Freddie Ladapo and Matt Crooks equalised on two occasions in a 2-2 draw.

A Feji Okenabirhie penalty was enough for Shrewsbury to beat Blackpool, Burton came from behind to beat Rochdale 3-1 and Doncaster drew 1-1 with Accrington.