Sunderland sealed a crucial three points and moved only three points off the top of League One with an Aiden O’Brien goal.

Sunderland’s goal came in the latter stages of the first half through O’Brien and in a scrappy match the solitary goal was enough to seal the three points and continue the lads’ unbeaten run.

Lee Johnson made two changes to the line-up with O’Brien and Josh Scowen in for Grant Leadbitter and Connor McLaughlin.

With Sunderland’s future in their own hands, the lads went into the game looking to move up the League One standings.

The hosts were the first to have an effort on goal; Rovers worked it around nicely, and Zain Westbrooke turned and fired an effort just wide of Lee Burge’s post

With ten minutes gone, it was a scrappy affair with the Rovers pressing well and they hadn’t let Sunderland settle.

Rovers should have taken the lead 15 minutes in as Dion Sanderson gifted Jonah Ayunga the ball and his powerful effort flew wide of the post.

Sunderland almost caught Bristol out from a quick free-kick, and Lynden Gooch was in on goal but denied by Anssi Jaakkola did well to save, and from the rebound, Charlie Wyke couldn’t control the header and get it on target.

Joey Barton will have been the happier of the two managers with ten to play in the opening period; they looked sharper and were pressing high at every opportunity.

Against the run of play, Sunderland took the lead, an Aiden McGeady corner was floated into the middle and Aiden O’Brien found some space and managed to prod it into the corner.

The second half had started at a decent pace, with both sides looking to increase the pressure and get the second goal of the game.

It was far from a classic, but a game that Sunderland were desperate to hold on to the lead and get a crucial three points.

Sunderland had a chance to get a second from a lovely Power cross, but McGeady couldn’t keep his volley down and get it on target.

O’Brien was close to doubling Sunderland’s lead as he got on the end of a great McGeady cross, but his effort was fired just over the bar.

The lads were getting closer to a second and Wyke turned well to get a shot way but was denied by a strong save from Jaakkola.

McGeady was inches away from making it 2-0 as his free kick glanced off the post and had Jaakkola scrambling.

Sunderland just couldn’t seem to put the game to bed as the ball dropped to Wyke who was again denied by Jaakkola.

Bristol Rovers were searching for that equaliser and Burge was called upon as David Tutonda’s shot was brilliantly saved from the Sunderland stopper.

Despite some late pressure from the hosts, Sunderland held on for a massive three points away from home.

Full Time: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Sunderland

ALS Man of the Match: Aiden McGeady

Sunderland: Burge; Power, Sanderson, O'Nien, McFadzean; Scowen, Winchester, Gooch (Leadbitter 66’), O'Brien (Stewart 66’), McGeady; Wyke

Subs Not Used: Matthews, Maguire, Diamond, Neil & Younger