Sunderland slipped five points from safety tonight, but it could have been much worse.
Barnsley moved up to 33 points thanks to a 1-1 Oakwell draw against Norwich, but Jose Morais’s men were ahead with a strike from OIi McBurnie until Josh Murphy equalised 19 minutes from time.
If the Tykes had managed to hold on, they would have risen to 35 points, seven in front of Sunderland.
As it is, the gap is effectively six points because of Sunderland’s inferior goal difference, 11 worse than Barnsley.
Second-bottom Burton Albion failed to capitalise on their game in hand, going down 2-0 to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, with defender Enda Stevens and David Brooks on target.
Nigel Clough’s side remain on 30 points, level with Birmingham City and two above the Black Cats.
Meanwhile, Nigel Adkins’ Hull City secured a precious second successive victory, 3-0 at Ipswich, to rise to 17th place on 39 points, 11 in front of Sunderland.
Markus Henriksen, Harry Wilson and Jarrod Bowen did the damage at Portman Road.