Doncaster Rovers’ four-game winning streak was brought to an end by automatic promotion chasers Sunderland.
Rovers struggled to impose themselves - particularly in the final third - on their first ever visit to the Stadium of Light.
But their play-off hopes remain in their own hands after seventh-placed Peterborough United conceded a 95th minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at Fleetwood Town earlier in the day.
Lewis Morgan settled the Black Cats’ nerves by firing them in front after seven minutes as Rovers began the game in sheepish fashion.
Doncaster settled but Charlie Wyke tapped in following a misjudgement by goalkeeper Marko Marosi just after the half hour mark and the home side were able to see out the game with relative comfort.
Rovers would have hoped to put Sunderland's rejigged back four under pressure from the off but it was the Black Cats who started at a quick tempo – and Grant McCann’s men looked slightly overawed.
Widemen Aiden McGeady and Lewis Morgan immediately asked questions and, sure enough, the deadlock was broken after just seven minutes when Wyke knocked down a McGeady cross from the left and Morgan finished in emphatic fashion.
Doncaster felt aggrieved that, moments before the goal, John Marquis appeared to be fouled by Alim Ozturk in a dangerous position.
Ben Whiteman, back from injury but withdrawn at half time, tested Jon McLaughlin with an angled effort as Rovers pulled themselves together.
But after Luke O'Nien flashed a shot just wide and Morgan saw a goalbound effort deflected over it did not come as a huge surprise when Sunderland’s greater threat saw them extend their lead on 32 minutes.
Marko Marosi came for a Max Power cross but was beaten in the air by Jimmy Dunne and Wyke was left with the simplest of tap-ins.
Danny Andrew came within a whisker of halving the deficit on the stroke of half time but saw his freekick smack the post.
Substitute Alfie May almost sneaked in following the re-start but the hosts had a firm grip on the game and went close to a killer third when Bryan Oviedo hit the post and Marosi saved well to deny Wyke.
Rovers, who thought they had a good case for a penalty ignored when Ozturk grappled with Andy Butler, enjoyed the greater share of possession and territory as the clock ticked down but they were unable to test McLaughlin, while Marosi had to be alert to deny Will Grigg in the dying moments.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, O’Nien, Dunne, Ozturk, Oviedo, Cattermole, Honeyman, Power (Leadbitter 89), McGeady (Gooch 75), Morgan, Wyke (Grigg 77). Subs not used: Ruiter, Maguire, Flanagan, Hume.
Rovers: Marosi, Blair, Downing, Butler, Andrew, Whiteman (Crawford 46), Rowe, Kane, Coppinger (May 46), Wilks (Smith 83), Marquis. Subs not used: Jones, Anderson, Sadlier, Lewis.
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 34,287 (2,326)