Fleetwood Town 2-1 Sunderland
Sunderland’s hopes of automatic promotion were extinguished on Tuesday evening, as Jack Ross’ side suffered a late defeat at Fleetwood Town.
A commanding start initially went without reward, but Lee Cattermole’s seventh goal of the campaign handed the Lads a deserved lead on the half-hour mark.
Fleetwood battled, though, and they were rewarded with 17 minutes remaining, as Paddy Madden’s low finish found the back of the net.
The Black Cats picked themselves up and went in search of a winner during the closing stages, but the Cod Army struck in added time to seal three points.
Portsmouth were also beaten, ensuring Luton Town and Barnsley will be playing Championship football next season.
Fleetwood survived an early scare when a routine back pass sold Alex Cairns short, but the stopper managed to slide in and deny the looming Will Grigg.
With 13 minutes played, the ‘keeper was called into action once more, and he was equally assured, with a smart save denying Max Power from ten yards after Chris Maguire and Lewis Morgan combined.
Sunderland continued to bang on the door, but when Cairns was finally beaten, Grigg’s bending effort thudded against the crossbar.
Like many of his team-mates, Lewis Morgan started brightly, with a sumptuous cross picking out Grigg, but once again there was no way past the Fleetwood stopper.
Thankfully, the opener arrived soon after.
Maguire’s pinpoint corner was met by Cattermole, who guided a terrific header into the net to secure a deserved advantage.
The Lads remained in control following the restart, with chances few and far between.
But out of nowhere, the Cod Army struck back on 73 minutes through Madden.
Ross’ men responded with Fleetwood forced to defend multiple set pieces, but as the clear-cut chance they needed failed to materialise, one arrived at the other end.
Deep into stoppage time, Ashley Eastham headed home to inflict defeat on the Lads.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Coyle, Clarke (Sowerby 45), Eastham, Burns, Madden, Hunter, Wallace, Nadesan, Husband, Biggins.
Subs not used: Jones, Southam-Hales, Baggley, Hill, Rydel, Mooney.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, O’Nien, Oviedo, Cattermole, Power, Maguire (Honeyman 69), Morgan, Gooch, Grigg (Sterling 65).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Matthews, Dunne, Hume.