Black Cats go top
Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Sunderland recorded their sixth successive win to go top of The Championship.
The promotion-chasing Black Cats profited from Wigan's draw at Nottingham Forest thanks to substitute Chris Brown's late winner at The Stadium of Light.
Coventry, involved in a battle against the drop, had chances to score themselves in the first period. Micky Adams's men went close when Richard Duffy flashed a long range effort just wide of Thomas Myhre's goal.
Trevor Benjamin then headed just off target after managing to meet a corner in aggressive fashion as The Sky Blues showed they would not be another side to succumb to a heavy beating on Wearside.
Sunderland's best attempt in the opening half came when the outstanding Julio Arca charged down the left flank, cut in, and shot goalwards, only for Ian Bennett to divert the effort to safety with his legs.
Arca again posed a threat after the interval when shaping ominously to shoot, only to clip his left-footed drive wide of goal.
Rookie forward Chris Brown was thrown into the fray, along with the crafty Sean Thornton, and Stephen Wright soon brought the best out of Bennett from a Thornton corner with a sharp header.
Brown almost broke the deadlock when latching onto a Steve Staunton error but his shot, although beating Bennett, bounced back off a post.
With only 14 minutes remaining, the home crowd cheered in relief as Brown's effort earned the three points for Mick McCarthy's side, who have hit top form at just the right time.
A positive pass forward by Carl Robinson was nudged back by Marcus Stewart for Brown to shoot into the net. It was not the most convincing of finishes but it was out of Bennett's reach and the 20-year-old, who recently signed a new contract with the club, celebrated in front of the jubilant supporters.
Gary McSheffrey and Stern John had late opportunities but Sunderland held out to go top of the table.
"It's before the two-week break that we've all got now," said McCarthy afterwards.
"We've got a load of lads on international duty, they can enjoy it and be relaxed and I can spend time with my family and be relaxed.
"I can look forward to the challenge at QPR because it'll be a tough game."
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