Sunderland closed the gap on Barnsley with a comfortable 2-0 away win at Bristol Rovers, Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady on the scoresheet.
Here’s what we learned from the victory.
Another game, another moment of McGeady class.
Sunderland were leading through Luke O’Nien’s close-range finish, Will Grigg putting the ball on a plate for the makeshift right-back.
But as Sunderland have found to their cost in recent away games, a 1-0 lead can quickly become a disappointing draw.
Step forward McGeady. His sublime free-kick gave the Rovers keeper no chance and secured the points.
The Irishman is a class above in League One, his 11th of the campaign.
Sunderland cope well with Rovers’ route one approach.
You could be forgiven for needing a neck brace following the game at the Memorial Stadium, such was Rovers’ one-dimensional route one approach.
Time after time they pumped long balls forward, first half they targeted the channels and the Sunderland full-backs, second half, Tom Flanagan and Jimmy Dunne had more work to do.
And the pair performed well, Dunne especially. The Burnley loanee has come in for criticism of late but he was excellent against Rovers, winning almost all of his headers.
Sunderland putting pressure on the top two at just the right time.
Barnsley and Luton Town have enjoyed a relatively pressure-free few weeks, with Sunderland and Portsmouth drawing too many games and dropping points in the automatic promotion race.
This week though Sunderland have strung together back-to-back wins.
It is now Barnsley’s turn to stutter, drawing their last two games.
Sunderland have only lost two games all season and their promotion hopes are now back in their own hands, two points off Barnsley with a game in hand.
Charlie Wyke endures an off day.
Lewis Morgan made a real difference for Sunderland off the bench, three times he raced at the Rovers full-back with the ball at his feet.
Each time he produced a pinpoint pass or cross for Wyke. And three times Wyke missed. The first attempt was a difficult one to convert but Wyke should have done better with the other two.
The third especially, firing wide with the goal gaping.
His confidence severely dented, he is crying out for a goal.
Sunderland deserve credit for their goalscoring record.
The Black Cats are the only team in the top four divisions to have scored in every league game this season.
That is a remarkable stat.
Ross rightly makes the point every week and time and time again his Sunderland players continue to deliver.
The challenge now to do it every game until the end of the season.
Partnerships reaping rewards.
Grant Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole. And Tom Flanagan and Jimmy Dunne.
Both partnerships excelled at the Memorial Stadium, Leadbitter and Cattermole following up their impressive display against Gillingham with another on Saturday.
Cattermole on the front foot, Leadbitter happy to dictate play from deeper, his corners always on the money causing problems.
Central midfield has been a big issue this season but this appears to be the best fit as we head into the run-in.