Wycombe Wanderers moved above the Black Cats in the table with a 4-1 win away at Cambridge United, with Josh Scowen and Gareth McCleary adding to Joe Jacobson’s brace in what proved to be a comfortable win.
Gareth Ainsworth’s side are now two points ahead of Sunderland in the table, but have played a game more.
There was also much better news for Alex Neil’s side elsewhere in the division, with Karl Robinson’s Oxford United falling to a surprise defeat away at struggling Morecambe.
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Matty Taylor had given his side an early lead but goals from Aaron Wildig and Cole Stockton turned the contest on its head.
Derek Adams’ side held on for three vital points, lifting themselves out of the relegation zone in the process. Having started Saturday’s fixtures two points ahead of Sunderland, Oxford United have now dropped to eighth. Sunderland have a point advantage and a game in hand on Robinson’s side ahead of a crunch meeting between the two sides at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Wigan Athletic and MK Dons moth bolstered their automatic promotion hopes at the very top of the table with 3-0 and 2-1 wins over Accrington Stanley and Crewe Alexandra respectively.
Liam Manning’s side have now climbed into the top two, though Rotherham United have two games in hand as they seek to overhaul a two-point deficit in the closing weeks of the season.