Charlie Wyke’s strike was enough to beat ten-man Tranmere and push Sunderland into fifth.

The first half was a cagey affair with the two teams trying to battle the pitch as well as each other. Sunderland opened the scoring on the hour through Charlie Wyke; five minutes before time the hosts were reduced to ten as Sunderland sealed a crucial three points and made it nine unbeaten.

Sunderland made one change to the team which drew against Doncaster last time out as new signing Bailey Wright made his debut for the lads in place of Alim Ozturk.

The first thing of note was the state of the pitch and it looked more like a beach than a football pitch in some areas.

Sunderland had a great chance in the first five minutes from a Chris Maguire free kick; the ball was played into the area and met by the head of Joel Lynch who nodded it to Wright from close range who could only head it over – a great chance missed.

Tranmere were almost in as Kieron Morris was slipped in, but his touch was incredibly poor, and it rolled through to Jon McLaughlin.

Sunderland were struggling to settle into the match and gain momentum but considering the conditions it was never going to be a free-flowing game.

The hosts had a good chance following a dubious decision to give a free kick from the referee and Kane Wilson forced McLaughlin to parry an effort wide of the goal.

Tranmere looked the most likely to break the deadlock and were pressing for that opening goal 30 minutes into the match.

The referee was gaining a reputation from both sets of supporters and was having an awful night with several poor decisions.

With just under five minutes to play in the half Sunderland were enjoying some much-needed possession but were struggling to create any chances and work their way through the Tranmere defence.

The half time whistle blew, and a big team talk was required with potentially Kyle Lafferty and Josh Scowen playing a big part in getting Sunderland the three points.

50 minutes into proceedings and the game needed a spark and Sunderland had increased the intensity but were still yet to test Scott Davies.

The lads had their best opening of the game as Maguire led the break, but his final ball for Lynden Gooch was painfully over hit and it forced the American too wide.

Sunderland broke the deadlock 60 minutes into the game as Wyke got onto the end of a Maguire freekick to flick his header in at the near post. With so few chances created from open play, set pieces were crucial and reaped the rewards with a great Maguire ball in.

Gooch came close to doubling the lead as he was played in by George Dobson, but he couldn’t quite control the half volley and get it on target.

With less than ten minutes to play the home side were pressing for an equaliser and getting the ball in the box from wide areas on every occasion.

Six minutes from time, Emmanuel Monthe was sent off for two yellow cards; Dobson broke from the back and carried the ball deep into the Tranmere half and was brought down by the big centre half who had already been booked.

Late into the game Scowen made his debut for Maguire to shore up the midfield and slow the game down.

Sunderland survived a late onslaught from Tranmere and sealed a massive three points in a scrappy game of few chances.

Full Time: Tranmere 0-1 Sunderland

ALS Man of the Match: Bailey Wright