Charlie Wyke was on target with the winner as Sunderland emerged 2-1 victors from a close Sky Bet League One contest at Rochdale.
The home side dominated possession for long spells and were the better side during the first half, Callum Camps' driving run at the Sunderland defence taking him into the area but he was unable to squeeze the ball inside John McLaughlin's post and his effort struck the side-netting.
Sunderland took the lead against the run of play in the 28th minute as Luke O'Nien worked a ball across the area from left to right and Aiden McGeady had time and space to pick his spot and side-foot the ball beyond Robert Sanchez.
The visitors' lead lasted only five minutes before Camps drew Dale level when he cushioned Stephen Dooley's lay-off into the ground and the bounce beat McLaughlin as he dived to his right in vain.
The Black Cats' goalkeeper parried a piledriver from Camps minutes into the second half but once again it was Sunderland who edged ahead in the 56th minute when O'Nien's back-post cross was headed down by McGeady and Wyke swept home for maximum points.