Charlie Wyke shrugged off illness and a migraine to inspire Sunderland to a Good Friday win over Doncaster Rovers and bolster their automatic promotion hopes.
Sunderland moved back into third place and two points off Barnsley - who had beaten Shrewsbury Town earlier in the day - to keep up the pace in the League One promotion race.
Wyke led the line in a new-look 4-2-3-1 with Jack Ross making four changes, including dropping Will Grigg and both of his centre backs.
Wyke was suffering from a migraine and illness prior to kick-off but shrugged it off to produce a stellar performance.
The summer signing was a focal point all day, winning his headers and proving a constant nuisance throughout, helping inspire the Black Cats to a big win.
Lewis Morgan fired Sunderland ahead seven minutes in, Wyke adding a second from close range after 32 minutes, his fifth of the season in all competitions.
In recent weeks Wyke has established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet, scoring three and providing three assists over the past month.
And Ross hailed his impact, with the striker set to play a pivotal role in the remaining four games, with Sunderland away to Peterborough United on Easter Monday.
Ross said: “He wasn’t feeling great before the game, he had a migraine and was sick in the changing room so I didn’t think he would play to be honest.
“We had Kaz Sterling going out warming up, we thought we may have to make that change.
“He started to feel better. Naturally towards the end of the game he tired, I was delighted he produced that level of performance on the back of not feeling that great.
“He has shown what he thought he would do, he gives us something different.
“He is capable of leading the line, he has had to adjust to that role, it has been stop start for him physically but he started to make a contribution from the bench and then started games
and did well.
“He is at a level of performance that he will continue that between now and the end of the season, he will be a big asset for us.”
Ross also revealed he wasn’t feeling too clever, the Sunderland boss also suffering from a headache.
He added: “It is a day for migraines, I am digging in through this!”
Another player to make a big impression was Aiden McGeady, who had only briefly trained on Thursday at the Academy of Light, the winger still suffering with a foot problem.
Ross added: “He is playing through the absolute pain barrier at the moment. To get close to 70 minutes from him is a lot, we will see how he is for Monday.
“He is sore but wants to keep playing and contributing.
“He trained minimal on Thursday, to tick over for the game. He won’t lose anything fitness wise from it but it is testament to his character that he wants to be on the pitch and do a job.”