Jordan Willis scored a crucial goal to send the points back to Wearside in a tense and cagey affair at the Kassam Stadium.
Willis’ goal opened the scoring in the opening few minutes as Sunderland edged the first half. The second period was all about the lads holding on and restricting the hosts to as little clear-cut chances as possible; Sunderland defended well and gained that all-important three points.
Sunderland were unchanged again following the comfortable win against Rochdale in midweek looking to keep the promotion push going.
The lads made a perfect start and took the lead three minutes into the game through a Chris Maguire corner was flicked into the net by Jordan Willis – there was some confusion whether it was off John Mousinho or not but all that mattered was that Sunderland were 1-0 up.
Ten minutes into the game, Phil Parkinson’s men had started the game on the front foot and looked in complete control.
Despite such a promising start, Sunderland almost shot themselves in the foot as Bailey Wright misjudged a header back to McLaughlin and Matty Taylor latched onto the loose ball but was denied by the Sunderland stopper who blocked the effort.
The hosts had grown into the game and were almost in on goal, but Willis cut out the pass to Taylor who would have had a great chance to score – the centre half proving how vital he is at both ends of the pitch.
The conditions were proving to be less than ideal with the blustery winds playing havoc at times and Oxford trying to play the ball over the top of the Sunderland defence.
Eight minutes before the break Oxford came close to scoring as balls into the box proved to be difficult and the hosts were looking for a penalty as Taylor tried to get on the end of a Josh Ruffels cross.
Five minutes into the second half and the home side were looking threatening and a long-range effort from Ruffels which needed saving as McLaughlin did well to tip it over the bar.
Sunderland were struggling to get anything going and were weathering the storm in more ways than one. It was one-way traffic and the lads needed to get a grip of the game and keep possession.
Parkinson made his first change just before the hour mark and as Josh Scowen came on for Lynden Gooch in a bid to solidify the midfield.
The lads had got going midway through the second period and Maguire’s cross/shot from a tight angle needed parrying Simon Eastwood to safety.
With only 25 minutes to go, it was all about game management and it was one of those game where it didn’t matter how you win.
Sunderland almost sealed the points as Maguire whipped in a beautiful ball in, but Charlie Wyke headed it just wide of the post – a great chance missed.
Bailey Wright was forced off due to an injury late on in the match as the Australian hobbled off the pitch and was replaced by Alim Ozturk for the final five minutes.
Sunderland were riding their luck at times and on a few occasions, the ball just never seemed to drop in the right place for a man in a yellow shirt to score.
Despite five minutes of added-on time, Sunderland held on for the win and sent the sold-out away section delighted.
Full Time: Oxford 0-1 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Jordan Willis