Sunderland interim head coach Mike Dodds admitted his “bold” tactical changes and selection backfired after the 2-1 home defeat to Swansea.

In his first game as caretaker boss after Michael Beale was sacked earlier this week, Dodds was without injured star man Jack Clarke and made four changes as well as switching to a back three.

But it didn’t go to plan for Dodds and Sunderland, who were outplayed in the first half by Swansea and the visitors took complete control thanks to Ronald’s quickfire double.

Sunderland improved after the break and halved the deficit through Luke O’Nien but couldn’t force an equaliser.

“It didn’t work, it doesn’t take an expert to see that,” admitted Dodds.

“One thing I demonstrated last time I was in this role and that’ll I’ll keep reiterating is that while I’m in this position I’ll continue to make bold decisions. Sometimes that will be a positive, sometimes a negative.

“We’ve got to take that first 45 on the chin, me, the staff and the players. I wouldn’t have sent the players out if I wasn’t confident the message was really clear, so that’s something as a collective we all have to take on the chin.

“I know I’ve been really bold in terms of my decisions and how I’ve tried to set up, I’m not going to take all the responsibility because it’s a relationship between me and the players.”

Only three Championship players have scored more than Clarke this season and the winger was always going to be a big miss after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s defeat to Birmingham.

Dodds said: “Any team in this league would miss Jack Clarke and Dan Ballard but I won’t make excuses.

“I won’t shirk away from the responsibility of being head coach and the fact the first 45 wasn’t acceptable.”

Swansea are now four points above the drop zone after bouncing back from successive home defeats with a much-needed victory.

Boss Luke Williams said: “The first half in particular was strong. I think we were good value for the result.

“We have been seeing some really good performance markers in games but it’s difficult when the result is negative.

“We felt we were improving bit by bit and today is a big step forward.

“Ronald deserved both the goals. He’s deserved one or two more key actions in previous games. He was a huge threat. He’s so quick and direct and I’m really happy for him.

“We need now to try and improve so that we can control longer periods of the game. The opposition was brilliant in the second half and put us under a lot of pressure but on the flip side I saw the team defending well.”

Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson almost scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser after going up for a corner but was denied by Swansea counterpart Carl Rushworth.

Williams added: “Rushy is incredible. He’ll be a top keeper. He’ll be with us next season but after that I think he’ll be a top Premier League goalkeeper.”

January signing Ronald scored a first-half double for Swansea as Mike Dodds’ first game as Sunderland’s interim boss ended in a 2-1 defeat.

Dodds impressively led the Black Cats to two wins from three games during a stint in charge in December after Tony Mowbray’s dismissal and was handed the reins until the end of the season after Michael Beale’s sacking earlier this week.

But the home side were outplayed by Swansea, who eased their relegation woes with a deserved win that moved Luke Williams’ side four points clear of the drop zone.

The visitors could have been out of sight after a one-sided first-half display but Ronald’s double – the 22-year-old’s first goals since joining from Gremio in January – was enough as Swansea got back to winning ways after two home defeats.

Luke O’Nien gave Sunderland hope late in the second half but the Black Cats couldn’t force a leveller. The Black Cats have now lost three games on the bounce and their play-off hopes are fading fast.

Swansea headed for Wearside having won only one of their previous seven Championship games but threatened to run riot in a dominant first half, with Ronald’s quickfire double putting the visitors in complete control.

The Brazilian opened his account after 19 minutes when he was on hand to tap in a rebound after Anthony Patterson initially kept out a Liam Cullen header.

His second was a superb finish, taking down Joe Allen’s through ball with a neat first touch before lashing low beyond Patterson.

It could have been much worse for the hosts.

Ronald fired wide at full stretch after a sublime Allen pass and fellow winger Przemyslaw Placheta could have had a hat-trick himself.

He somehow blazed over from just six yards, hit the post with a close-range header and had a shot from the edge of the area deflected just wide.

At the other end, Sunderland offered next to nothing, their only two shots on target in the first half being tame Abdoullah Ba and Nazariy Rusyn efforts that were easily saved by Carl Rushworth.

There was a bit more purpose to the home side’s play early in the second half and Pierre Ekwah went close with a curling strike from distance that shaved the top of the crossbar before Ba flashed a dangerous drive across the face of goal.

Sunderland halved the deficit 13 minutes from time when O’Nien headed in an Ekwah cross from the left.

They almost levelled in dramatic circumstances when Patterson went up for a corner and forced a superb save by Rushworth deep in stoppage time.

Michael Beale has been sacked as Sunderland head coach after just two months in the role.

The 43-year-old former QPR and Rangers boss, who replaced Tony Mowbray at the Stadium of Light helm on December 18, has lost his job just 12 games into his reign following successive Sky Bet Championship defeats to Huddersfield and Birmingham.

Sporting director Kristjaan Speakman told the club’s official website: “We are disappointed that Michael is leaving Sunderland AFC.

“Our desire is to improve and unfortunately that hasn’t been evident, as such we take full accountability and feel that acting decisively is in the best interests of the club.

“This has been a difficult few months for Michael, who leaves with our best wishes for the future.”

Assistant Mike Dodds will take charge of the team for the remainder of the season.

Speakman continued: “Our focus is now on the players and supporting Mike Dodds in the remaining games to ensure we achieve the highest possible league finish. We will be updating our supporters further as and when significant developments are made.”

Beale, who worked under Steven Gerrard as he guided Rangers to the Scottish Premiership title in 2021, walked into something of a storm on Wearside as fans disappointed by Mowbray’s departure and less than enamoured with his replacement vented their frustrations.

His suggestion that he was not liked by the supporters because he was a cockney did little to calm the waters, and results on the pitch did not help him either.

In all, he won only four of the games for which he was in the dugout and lost six, one of them a tame 3-0 home defeat by arch rivals Newcastle in the FA Cup third round.

Beale courted further criticism at the weekend when he appeared to snub substitute Trai Hume’s handshake as he left the pitch at St Andrew’s, but later apologised and insisted he had not been aware he had done so.

Sunderland currently sit 10th in the table, four points adrift of the play-off places with 13 games remaining.

They reached the semi-finals under Mowbray last season after finishing sixth in their first season back in the second tier, eventually going down 3-2 on aggregate to Luton, who beat Coventry on penalties in the final to reach the top flight.

Chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus now faces the task of identifying the fourth new manager since he inherited Lee Johnson when he bought into the club in 2021 having replaced the incumbent with Alex Neil, who left for Stoke in the wake of promotion and opened the door for Mowbray.

Birmingham manager Tony Mowbray saluted an “amazing achievement” after his team made it two home wins in a week by coming from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1.

Koji Miyoshi grabbed an 80th-minute winner after Jordan James cancelled out Jack Clarke’s 22nd-minute lead on the hour.

It meant City have recorded their first back-to-back home successes since October and they have climbed to 15th, six points above the Sky Bet Championship drop zone.

“I’m very proud of the group and their desire and determination to work really hard for each other on the back of a landscape of where we are in the league,” said Mowbray.

“After not winning many home games this season, it’s an amazing achievement for them.”

Despite the gap, Mowbray refuses to accept City are safe.

“We’re in a predicament and we’re still in the same position after a couple of teams won,” he added.

“We’re still six points away from trouble but it’s given us a bit of confidence and momentum and the belief that we can win against anyone at home.

“This is what the team needs to know to have that confidence and belief in themselves.

“The team is fighting hard for each other but this was about the supporters and the players on the pitch.

“We gifted Sunderland the first goal but we found a way to score two goals.”

Several supporter incentives meant Birmingham were watched by 27,449 – the biggest crowd at St Andrew’s for more than seven years.

Mowbray said he used the home crowd to spur on the players as they took the game to Sunderland after a lacklustre first-half performance.

“The message at half-time was ‘we will score, and if we score one, this place will take off and we’ll score two or three’, they made it happen,” he added.

“Days like this with a full stadium against a good team with a big support following them show that we can come out on top and win, and we did that together.”

Clarke intercepted Seung-Ho Paik’s square pass to Marc Roberts then raced on to coolly slot past John Ruddy.

James equalised after Miyoshi had two shots blocked when Tyler Roberts’ angled drive had been parried by goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.

Miyoshi prodded home ahead of Patterson after reacting quickest to Jay Stansfield’s deflected cross.

Sunderland have not won on their travels since Boxing Day and are currently 10th, five points off the top six.

Their head coach Michael Beale admitted: “Unless we improve our away form it (play-offs) is going to be difficult.

“We have to find a way of getting positive away results because it’s nowhere good enough.

“We’re certainly not giving up on anything with the amount of games we’ve got to go.

“But our away form all season has been a concern.”

Tony Mowbray celebrated back-to-back home wins against his most recent former clubs after Birmingham came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1.

Koji Miyoshi capped a magnificent comeback by City after Jordan James equalised on the hour to make it two home victories in five days after they beat Blackburn 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Jack Clarke gave Sunderland the lead in the 22nd minute with his 15th goal of the season as the Black Cats dominated the first half.

But it was a different story in the second half as Blues, watched by 27,449 – the biggest crowd at St Andrew’s for more than seven years when 29,656 saw a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa on October 30, 2016 – looked far hungrier.

Sunderland midfielder Jobe Bellingham – making his first return to St Andrew’s since leaving in the summer – beat Cody Drameh on the left but his cross was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Pierre Ekwah sent a rising drive over the bar then Mason Burstow seemed to have a golden chance to score when he latched on to Romaine Mundle’s deflected cross, but the ball hit his heel and sailed harmlessly over.

Mundle had the first on-target effort but his 25-yard drive arrowed straight at Ruddy.

Birmingham’s first chance was a blockbuster as Jay Stansfield crashed a full-blooded 25-yard volley goalwards only for goalkeeper Anthony Patterson to tip it over after Sunderland partly cleared a corner.

But the visitors’ bright start was rewarded when they took the lead.

Seung-Ho Paik’s square pass to Marc Roberts was easily intercepted by Clarke, who raced on to coolly slot past Ruddy into the bottom corner of the net.

Birmingham continued to give the ball away in dangerous situations and Paik was booked for catching Ekwah late, Bellingham curling over the resulting 20-yard free-kick.

Sunderland went close to a second goal in the 42nd minute.

Mundle got the wrong side of Krystian Bielik but his curling shot – aiming for the same corner of the net as Clarke did for the goal – was turned aside by Ruddy at full stretch.

Birmingham looked a different proposition after the break, however, and their improvement was rewarded with the equaliser on the hour.

Midfielder James slotted home after Miyoshi had two shots blocked – the first by Trai Hume on the line – after Tyler Roberts’ angled drive had been parried by Patterson.

Sunderland had the ball in the net again in the 68th minute – but any joy was short-lived as Burstow’s header from Clarke’s free-kick was ruled offside.

Birmingham’s revival was in full swing when Miyoshi put the hosts ahead with 10 minutes of normal time to go.

The Japan midfielder prodded home ahead of Patterson after reacting quickest to Stansfield’s deflected cross for his fifth goal of the season.

League One Bradford claimed another Premier League scalp to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 39 years on this day in 2015.

Billy Clarke’s deflected third-minute effort – which went down as a John O’Shea own goal – and a cool 61st-minute finish from Jon Stead saw the Bantams build on their stunning fourth-round win over Chelsea by dispatching Gus Poyet’s Sunderland 2-0 with embarrassing ease.

From Clarke’s effort on, the underdogs seized control of the game in front of a sell-out Valley Parade crowd of over 24,000 and heaped more woe on a Black Cats side struggling in the top flight.

At times it seemed like throwback football – a frenetic pace, a muddy pitch cutting up more by the minute, a pair of players swathed in thick white headbands after an early head clash, and a controversial lack of television cameras present to show the action live.

The roar released by the home fans at the final whistle could probably be heard in the offices of TV executives across the land as Phil Parkinson’s men confirmed their richly deserved place in the last eight for the first time since 1976.

Parkinson said at the time: “There was always a danger that, because we beat Chelsea, everyone would expect us to win today, and we had to guard against that and go in there with the underdog mentality.

“Right from the first whistle we played with great desire and great spirit and we were first to every ball all over the pitch.

“Today is another terrific day and, to have Valley Parade full of 24,000 fans, it’s like a throwback. The lads were absolutely revelling in it and they deserve the support because of their performances and the effort they have put in over the years.”

Bradford’s run was ended in the last eight by Reading, with the sides drawing 0-0 in the first match before the Royals won the replay 3-0.

Huddersfield interim boss Jon Worthington insists his side’s “committed performance” earned the Terriers a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The all-important moment came in the 38th minute when Jack Rudoni’s free-kick was beaten away by Anthony Patterson, only for Matty Pearson to bundle in the rebound to make it 1-0.

Huddersfield had chances to put the game to bed when Josh Koroma hit the near post from a free-kick before Rudoni’s glancing header was cleared off the line by Jobe Bellingham.

The Terriers were almost punished for those missed chances, but goalkeeper Lee Nicholls fantastically denied Trai Hume at the death before stopping Tom Lees’ from putting into his own net.

Worthington thought his side backed up a good performance in their 5-3 defeat to Southampton at the weekend with all three points.

He said: “Another game I really enjoyed – a committed performance from the lads. We had to go again from Saturday’s performance, in terms of the result, and I was happy with the desire the lads showed.

“I think it was a real squad effort to make sure we all dug in together to get over the line and the result.

“From the first minute we were on the front foot, wanting to run forward and support each other. ”

Pearson, operating at right-back instead of his usual position in central defence, scored his third goal of the season with the winner in the 38th minute.

It was his second goal in the last three games to help Huddersfield move five points away from the relegation zone.

And Worthington was quick to praise the all-round performance of the match-winner.

He added: “I know he will definitely run for me and do anything I ask of him. I was delighted for him today, that was an individual duel I was talking about.

“He puts his head and body in where others probably don’t and that’s a rarity when you’re brave like, and that brings you goals.”

Sunderland slipped to their seventh away league defeat of the season and missed the chance to climb back into the play-off places.

Boss Michael Beale thought his side wasted opportunities to claim points from the game and was unhappy to see his side lose from a set-piece.

He said: “To concede off a set-piece away from home is not good enough is it?

“It’s a pretty standard set-piece we’ve conceded from before half-time. We had our moments, but it’s a bad night.

“It’s a disappointing night. I thought Huddersfield made it a physical game and there was a point in the first half when we needed to roll our sleeves up and give a bit back, and I’m not sure we did that.

“On our best day we are slightly better than teams in this league, but I don’t think we are going to blow anyone away. We don’t score enough goals to blow teams away.”

Matty Pearson’s first-half goal pulled Huddersfield five points clear of the Championship relegation places with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Huddersfield were 5-3 beaten by promotion-chasing Southampton at the weekend and their confidence in front of goal showed when Pearson put them in front eight minutes before the break.

The Terriers have not lost on their own patch this year and were good value for a second successive home win – they could have had more than the solitary goal but for the woodwork and a goal-line clearance – but needed goalkeeper Lee Nicholls’ heroics to secure three points.

Huddersfield’s first chance came when Sorba Thomas dispossessed Daniel Ballard on the last line of defence and Luke O’Nien’s challenge recycled the ball out to a waiting David Kasumu who sliced wide of the target.

O’Nien brought Kasumu down outside the area which presented Huddersfield with a good set-piece opportunity on the edge of the area.

Jack Rudoni’s vicious strike from the free-kick was palmed by Anthony Patterson into the path of Pearson who bundled home from close range.

Huddersfield held their breath on the stroke of half-time when a short corner was worked out to Dan Neil, who fired an effort on target which looked to be a routine save for Nicholls, only for it to slip through his grasp out for a corner.

Sunderland were making a habit of giving Huddersfield dangerous free-kicks, this time Trai Hume brought Koroma down and the Huddersfield striker picked himself up and curled the resulting free-kick onto the near post.

Sunderland went in search of an equaliser and their first effort on target of the half came when Jobe Bellingham drilled into the gloves of Nicholls.

Huddersfield came within the width of the goal-line of doubling their advantage when Rudoni’s glancing header was cleared by Bellingham before appeals for handball were swiftly waved away by referee Gavin Ward.

Michael Beale rolled the dice with his substitutions in search of a leveller and Patrick Roberts’ strike from outside the box looked to be heading in before it was deflected over the bar.

The visitors thought they had earned a last-gasp equaliser when Hume was put through on goal only to be denied by the outstretched Nicholls as he magnificently tipped behind.

Nicholls was once again the hero in the final minute of added time when O’Nien’s cross was diverted towards his own goal by Tom Lees but the Huddersfield keeper sprung well to tip over the bar and earn another vital home win.

Some half-time truths helped to spark a dramatic Sunderland improvement as the Black Cats came from behind to beat Plymouth 3-1 and climb into the Sky Bet Championship’s top six.

Michael Beale’s side trailed at the break after Ryan Hardie’s opener for Plymouth, but Sunderland were transformed after the restart and extended their unbeaten Championship stretch to three games with three “special” goals.

Pierre Ekwah levelled for the home side seven minutes after half-time before Jack Clarke’s stunning 14th goal of the season just before the hour mark. Substitute Jobe Bellingham then wrapped up the points just two minutes after coming off the bench with a fine third.

“We only played in one half, to be honest,” said Beale, whose side have now won successive games at the Stadium of Light.

“We started the game well, but we really fell away and there were too many individual errors.

“We went really bold with our line-up and it certainly impacted our cohesion early in the game, I wasn’t pleased with our pressing.

“We had honest words at half-time, got out there early and I thought from the moment we kicked off, we were much much better.

“We scored three excellent goals and we’re mixing around the goalscorers now as well. It was three special goals.”

Beale endured a difficult start to life at Sunderland, but is excited by what his youthful side are capable of.

He said: “We’re a young team and so we always can get better. In that first half, there weren’t too many in a Sunderland shirt who did themselves justice and we spoke about that.

“We spoke about wanting to excite our fans at home, to run, play front-foot football and for people to express themselves.

“I could have made five subs, but I told the players that I thought it was the right team and they had to put it right.

“We didn’t want any regrets and I expected more. The second half was fantastic and we have to stay at that level.”

For Plymouth boss Ian Foster, it was a first Championship defeat since replacing Steven Schumacher as Argyle head coach.

He congratulated Sunderland on a “wonderful second-half performance”, but was critical of referee Anthony Backhouse.

Foster was frustrated at the fact his side were down to 10 men when Jack Clarke scored the home side’s second goal, with midfielder Adam Forshaw having received treatment for an injury.

He said: “My understanding is a player has to spend 30 seconds off the pitch, which he did, and they won’t allow him on.

“I got told then the fourth official must get a signal from the referee to allow him back on, which he does straight after they score, which is disappointing.

“In that moment, it’s become very costly for us. He’s got injured, he’s received treatment, I don’t understand why it’s a punishment.

“I’ll try and choose my words carefully here, if I was the referee I’d go home disappointed tonight having watched the game back. I thought it was a very one-sided decision-making process from him.”

Sunderland climbed into the Sky Bet Championship’s play-off places with an inspired come-from-behind 3-1 victory against Plymouth, who lost for the first time in the league under Ian Foster.

Argyle were unbeaten in three Championship games since Foster replaced Steven Schumacher and looked well positioned to continue their fine run when Ryan Hardie fired them into a half-time lead at the Stadium of Light.

But the Black Cats were a team transformed after the break, with Pierre Ekwah, Jack Clarke and substitute Jobe Bellingham all on target as Michael Beale’s improving side extended their own unbeaten league run to three games.

Buoyed by their impressive recent form and their first away win of the season at Swansea, Plymouth settled well and created the only meaningful chance in the early stages when Hardie forced a good save out of Anthony Patterson.

Sunderland dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes, but lacked invention, and their only shot on target in the first half was a speculative Clarke effort from distance that was stopped by visiting goalkeeper Conor Hazard.

After stifling and frustrating Sunderland for much of the first half, Plymouth caught the hosts cold on the counter to get themselves in front six minutes before the break.

In-form Morgan Whittaker turned defence in to attack with a brilliant pass to set Hardie away. The striker still had work to do, but kept his cool to round Patterson twice before clinically and delicately chipping home.

Hardie almost doubled Plymouth’s lead instantly with what would have been a stunning second goal. From inside his own half, the striker spotted Patterson off his line and his audacious attempt to catch the keeper out bounced just wide.

Sunderland turned the game on its head after the break and were level just seven minutes into the second half.

The Black Cats won a free-kick on the edge of the area when Darko Gyabi fouled Patrick Roberts, and former West Ham midfielder Ekwah fired through the broken wall and found the bottom corner.

Just seven minutes later, Sunderland were in front after Clarke’s latest moment of magic.

The winger’s 14th goal of the season was undoubtedly one of his best. There was plenty of work to be done when he picked up the ball on the left, but he cut inside before hitting an unstoppable drive that went in off the post.

Bellingham secured the victory for Sunderland halfway through the second half and just two minutes after coming off the bench.

The teenager had barely touched the ball before setting off on a driving run into the box, cutting inside and lashing into the far corner beyond the helpless Hazard.

Sunderland boss Michael Beale paid tribute to derby saviour Nazariy Rusyn after seeing him come off the bench to rescue a point at Middlesbrough.

The Ukrainian striker has taken his time to settle on Wearside after initially arriving without his family from Zorya Luhansk in September. However, he took a significant step forward on Sunday afternoon by blasting a late equaliser to snatch a 1-1 Sky Bet Championship draw at the Riverside Stadium.

Beale said: “I have seen a difference in him – and you would, if you are a father. Living away is different if you’re living in different parts of the UK, but obviously where he is from there is a war going on and he was a long way away from his wife and child.

“They are here now, which is fantastic for him on a personal level. All the time his English improves, he will have better connection with his team-mates on the pitch.”

Rusyn’s intervention came in the nick of time with Boro threatening to complete a double over their neighbours.

Both sides squandered good first-half opportunities with Finn Azaz blazing over an open goal after Sam Greenwood’s attempt had been saved and Abdoullah Ba failing to direct his attempt past defender Rav van den Berg on the line.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 61st minute when Forss blasted past Anthony Patterson but that proved insufficient to claim the points when 25-year-old Rusyn squeezed a dipping shot through goalkeeper Tom Glover with seven minutes remaining.

Beale said: “Our reaction, I thought, was fantastic and we go and and score a goal and then after that, I thought that with one or two of the moments we had, certainly with [Jack] Clarke getting in down the left, that maybe we should do better again.

“But if you can’t win… It’s a big point, How big, we won’t know for another few weeks yet.”

Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick admitted his frustration at dropping precious points from a winning position.

Asked about his emotions, Carrick said: “Yes, definitely, frustration and there’s a little bit of we need to get what we deserve from games and performances. It feels like we’re losing points that we definitely should be gaining.

“I feel for the boys because they put a lot into the game and showed a lot of quality, especially second half to control it fully, and not to come away with the win is disappointing.”

Substitute Nazariy Rusyn denied Middlesbrough derby-day victory as Sunderland hit back late to snatch a point at the Riverside Stadium.

Boro looked to be heading for a Sky Bet Championship double over their neighbours courtesy of Marcus Forss’ 61st-minute strike until the Ukrainian striker sent a dipping 83rd-minute shot past Tom Glover at his near post to snatch a 1-1 draw which leaves the Black Cats just a point shy of the play-off places.

The Teessiders, who have a game in hand, remain three points worse off after allowing two to slip from their grasp on a day when Finn Azaz and Abdoullah Ba passed up glorious first-half chances for their respective sides.

Azaz might have put Boro ahead with nine minutes gone after Sam Greenwood had raced clear of defender Dan Ballard on to Lukas Engel’s long ball and forced a block from keeper Anthony Patterson, but he skied over from the rebound with the goal yawning.

Boro keeper Glover saved from Jack Clarke and Trai Hume with the pace and trickery of Clarke and Ba keeping the Boro defence on its toes and the interplay between Jonny Howson, Hayden Hackney and Greenwood similarly occupying their opposite numbers.

Hackney dragged a 29th-minute attempt after robbing Jobe Bellingham and Ba warmed Glover’s hands with a rising drive two minutes later before firing wastefully into the side netting when he might have had better options in the middle.

Sunderland should have been ahead five minutes before the break when Bellingham and Clarke mesmerised the home defence to seemingly present Ba with a tap-in at the far post, but Rav van den Berg somehow got across to block his effort on the line.

Luke Ayling was denied by Hume after linking promisingly with Hackney and Forss down the right, and the Boro full-back curled another effort wide with the Teessiders dominating immediately after the restart.

Patterson was fortunate to escape unpunished after dallying on a back-pass as Greenwood and Forss closed him down, but his luck ran out with 61 minutes gone.

Dan Barlaser played a free-kick short to Hackney, who laid it off to Greenwood and his scuffed shot was controlled by Forss before he smashed the ball past the helpless keeper.

Greenwood could have made it 2-0, but steered his shot across the face of goal with just Patterson to beat, and his side was made to pay when Rusyn squeezed his shot past Glover to level.

Michael Beale hailed the togetherness of his Sunderland squad after the Black Cats put a “difficult few weeks” behind them with a much-needed 3-1 win against Stoke at the Stadium of Light.

Beale was under-fire after three straight defeats in all competitions and his problems deepened ahead of Saturday’s Championship game when Sunderland released a club statement claiming key midfielder Alex Pritchard had made himself unavailable for selection and “expressed his desire to leave with immediate effect”.

But the Black Cats managed to put those troubles to one side and are now only outside the play-off places on goal difference after an impressive home victory against the Potters.

Chelsea loanee Mason Burstow scored his first goal of the season before Abdoullah Ba – who replaced Pritchard in the team – added a second after the break. Midfielder Pierre Ekwah scored Sunderland’s third before Stoke managed a consolation through a Jenson Seelt own-goal.

“I’m delighted with the players and for them,” said Beale.

“The work ethic of the boys and togetherness behind the scenes, it’s been a difficult few weeks with the last two or three results, but it was a really good win today.

“It’s been an interesting start to (my time at) the club, hasn’t it? There’s a lot of emotion.

“I’m all in for the club. I want to be here for the long term and it’s important that my team and our team go on the pitch and put in performances that fans can get behind.

“Today they did. It’s one performance, we want to build on it.”

Pritchard’s Sunderland contract is due to expire in the summer but the midfielder might have played his last game for the club.

Beale said: “It’s been ongoing to be honest, not just the last 24 hours. He’s a boy who is coming up to the end of his contract and he’s been offered one, I think mentally it has got a bit much for him. Let’s keep the focus on the players who played today.”

Beale wants to sign a striker before Thursday’s transfer deadline but is hoping Burstow can build on his first Sunderland goal.

He said: “I’m delighted for Mason tonight and let’s hope it’s a chance for him now to really kick on.”

Steven Schumacher enjoyed a five-match unbeaten run after leaving Plymouth to take charge of Stoke but the Potters have now lost two games on the bounce and remain 19th in the Championship.

“I felt we played well, controlled large parts of the game and got into some really good areas and created loads of big chances but weren’t clinical enough,” said Schumacher.

“We haven’t got that belief in the final third. To miss the target as we did today is unacceptable and Sunderland punished us with their moments and their quality players.

“To have 37 shots in the last two games – and big opportunities – to not work the keeper as often as we are is just not good enough. And you’re not going to win games at this level like that.

“We had big chances before all three of their goals. It’s disappointing and frustrating but we have to keep going.”

Chelsea loanee Mason Burstow ended his long wait for a first Sunderland goal as the Black Cats beat Stoke 3-1 to ease the pressure on head coach Michael Beale.

The forward broke his duck in his 14th appearance for the club before Abdoullah Ba and Pierre Ekwah also scored to end the hosts’ run of three straight defeats in all competitions and move them level on points with sixth-placed Coventry in the Championship.

A Jenson Seelt own-goal was a mere consolation for Stoke, who remained 19th after their second straight loss.

Some Sunderland fans chanted for Beale to be sacked during last week’s defeat to Hull and the problems deepened for the former Rangers boss this week, with the Black Cats publishing a statement before kick-off on Saturday claiming midfielder Alex Pritchard had “made himself unavailable to play and expressed his desire to leave with immediate effect”.

But Beale and the Black Cats put those issues to one side against Steven Schumacher’s visitors.

The hosts were the brighter of the two sides from the off and had two good chances to break the deadlock in the opening quarter of an hour.

Jack Clarke has been the shining light for Sunderland this season and he could have added to his 13 goals when he blazed over from inside the box. Moments later, the former Tottenham and Leeds winger teed up midfielder Ekwah, who tried to catch out Stoke goalkeeper Daniel Iversen at his front post but hit the side-netting.

Stoke’s best chance of the first half came 10 minutes before the break. Midfielder Luke Cundle was denied by Anthony Patterson after a rampaging run from defender Ben Wilmot. The Potters kept the move alive and Bae Jun-ho looked certain to score only for Luke O’Nien to come to Sunderland’s rescue with a superb goal-line clearance.

Sunderland broke the deadlock two minutes before half-time. Dangerman Clarke darted down the left flank, his cross looped into the air and Ba nodded into the path of Burstow to bundle home his first goal of the season from close range.

Tyrese Campbell had a chance to level for Stoke just 22 seconds after the restart but lacked composure and ballooned his shot over the bar – and Sunderland quickly made the Potters pay.

Clarke was again involved, cutting in from the left after a rapid counter and teeing up Ba, who kept his cool and slotted home.

Ba created the third 20 minutes from time, picking out Ekwah, who found the bottom the corner from inside the box.

Stoke scored what proved to be a consolation four minutes later when a cross from ex-Sunderland defender Lynden Gooch was turned into his own net by Seelt.

Liam Rosenior felt his injury-hit Hull side produced their “most important performance of the season” as they claimed a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win over Sunderland.

Hull were without nine senior players as they travelled to Wearside, but Fabio Carvalho’s second-half strike proved sufficient to secure them a hard-fought success at the Stadium of Light.

The victory lifted the Tigers into the play-off positions and helped convince Rosenior that his side was capable of mounting a sustained promotion push in the remainder of the campaign.

The Hull boss said: “I think it’s the most important performance of the season.

“I wanted to see what we were made of. Coming to an amazing stadium like this, playing in front of nearly 40,000 people, when it feels as though everything is going against you.

“We’ve had some terrible luck with injuries, I think we’ve been on the wrong side of some questionable decisions at time and been on the wrong side of results when we deserved to win.

“It’s easy for a group to lose faith and lose belief in what we’re doing, but they showed they still believe, they showed they’ve got faith in each other and they showed they’re willing to work for each other.

“I thought every single player was brilliant in terms of their engagement to the game.”

Rosenior reserved special praise for Liverpool loanee Carvalho, who swivelled to volley home his side’s winner with 19 minutes remaining.

He said: “The technique for that strike was top. In this league, if you have players who can take advantage at key moments, then you’ve always got a chance.

“It’s fine margins in this league. We played Sunderland at home and Jack Clarke popped up with a magical goal. Tonight, we played Sunderland away from home and it was Fabio who popped up with the magical goal.”

Sunderland’s defeat means they have lost three games in a row in all competitions and manager Michael Beale had to listen to his own fans chanting “you’re getting sacked in the morning” in the wake of Carvalho’s winner.

Beale said: “I’d ask the fans to get behind the players – I get the frustration.

“They can see the effort on the park from the players and any help they can give them, they have to understand the strength of that.

“When you’re at home and at a club like this, you expect to win and we’re the same, we’re bitterly disappointed.

“I’m only a month into the job. It shows the expectation on managers now.

“I think the fans have to get behind the players on the park because they’re a young group and I don’t think they realise the strength of their support to that young group in there.

“I’ll take what comes my way, I’ll take the responsibility of managing this club. It is what it is, if you win games people are happy and if you don’t, they’re not.”

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