A first-half strike from Josh Maja proved enough to see Sunderland record a 1-0 victory over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.
The Black Cats’ top scorer found the net in the 23rd minute to give his side a lead they maintained, though The Seasiders felt hard done by when an Armand Gnanduillet strike was deemed to have been cleared off the line.
Blackpool were boosted by the return of Donervon Daniels for the game, while Joe Dodoo took up a place on the bench after missing the last three fixtures due to injury.
The visitors, backed by 8,000 away supporters, started on the front foot, however it was Blackpool who registered the first shot of the afternoon. Chris Taylor was the man to have it, firing just over the bar from 22-yards out.
That opportunity was the only one of note in the opening 20 minutes, though that soon changed when Sunderland took the lead. Blackpool were caught trying to play for offside out wide, but that allowed Aiden McGeady to whip the ball in for Josh Maja to score.
The Seasiders pushed for an instant response, with Chris Taylor sliding in and hitting the post from close range.
After Sunderland had rode out that spell of pressure, Blackpool came again through Callum Guy. The midfielder made a marauding run down the centre, though his through ball for Delfouneso proved to be a little too short.
Armand Gnanduillet was then just inches away from diverting Chris Taylor’s free-kick delivery on target.
In response, Sunderland clipped a ball to the back post in first-half added time, however Jack Baldwin knocked it wide.
Half-Time: Blackpool 0 Sunderland 1
Three minutes after the restart, Blackpool felt that they should have been back on level terms. Armand Gnanduillet showed great strength to shrug off the challenge of a defender and watched his effort appear to sneak over the line, only for the assistant to be happy with the last-ditch clearance on the line.
At the other end, Lyndon Gooch cut inside before drilling a low, 20-yard strike straight at Mark Howard.
Gooch then joined Paudie O’Connor in the book following an incident that led to a melee between both sets of players. O’Connor was prevented from taking a quick free-kick, opting to blast the ball straight at the Sunderland midfielder.
As The Seasiders pushed for a leveller, the game started to become stretched down the flanks. Mark Howard just about kept out a fizzing strike from Aiden McGeady that came straight at him.
Josh Maja almost scored his and Sunderland’s second of the afternoon when he drilled a shot just wide of the far post, while Jay Spearing made a vital header off the line to deny Tom Flanagan.
Blackpool responded by making a substitution, bringing Joe Dodoo on for Nathan Delfouneso.
However, more space was now opening up for Sunderland on the counter attack. Luckily Aiden McGeady wasted a three-on-two situation by blazing over the bar.
Armand Gnanduillet then did well to take the ball down inside the Sunderland box, yet opted to flash it back across goal where there was no team-mate to put it in.
Lyndon Gooch looked to put the game to bed for the visitors, but Mark Howard managed to palm his rasping effort clear of danger.
Gnanduillet wasted a good counter-attacking opportunity by firing high and wide, as the clock ticked down and ultimately ended in defeat.
Full-Time: Blackpool 0 Sunderland 1