Sunderland moved to within three points of Derby with a battling 2-0 win at Barnsley.
With Derby losing at Birmingham on Friday, the door was ajar for the chasing pack and Sunderland pushed their way through thanks to Grant Leadbitter and David Connolly.
There were fears that they may miss the bus, just as Marton Fulop, Anthony Stokes and Tobias Hysen were alleged to have done, but Leadbitter came to the rescue with a goal on 66 minutes and the points were secured by a late strike from Connolly.
The victory may have only been by a two-goal margin, but The Black Cats were much the better side and carved out a number of good chances.
Connolly and Dean Whitehead spurned good opportunities before the interval, but they were bailed out by Leadbitter.
The goal owed much to the endeavour of Whitehead who surged forward before teeing up Leadbitter who struck a crisp drive beyond Nick Colgan.
The struggling Tykes failed to fashion a response and Connolly sent the large travelling contingent home happy with a second in injury-time.