Sunderland kept the heat on the top two in League One with a 2-0 win over struggling Rochdale at the Stadium of Light.
First-half goals from Dion Sanderson and Charlie Wyke set the Black Cats on their way to a fifth win from six matches to stay five points off the automatic promotion spots.
Rochdale, who dropped to bottom of the table, had their moments in the first half but could not do enough to end a winless run that extended to eight matches.
Sunderland took the lead in the seventh minute when Aiden McGeady’s free-kick into the area was headed low into the corner by Sanderson.
Rochdale had chances to level when Kwadwo Baah was denied by the chest of Luke O’Nien and Conor Shaughnessy turned Ryan McLaughlin’s low delivery over the bar from close range.
But Wyke timed his run to perfection in the 35th minute to nod Jordan Jones’ cross low and with power into the corner to put Sunderland firmly in control.
Rochdale almost pulled one back immediately after the restart, goalkeeper Lee Burge turning a low drive from striker Stephen Humphrys behind for a corner.
Chris Maguire and Wyke had further chances for Sunderland, but the two goals were more than enough for victory.