Portsmouth and Barnsley seize initiative as Sunderland drop points at Peterborough United
Sunderland's automatic promotion hopes were dashed after they conceded a late equaliser against Peterborough United.
The Black Cats had the better of the game and looked to have sealed three points when Max Power scored a wonderful strike just minutes from full time.
But with the referee adding on seven additional minutes, striker Matt Godden scored an equally precise finish to take the away side's fate out of their own hands.
Another late winner from Portsmouth and a flying start from Barnsley at Plymouth Argyle had meant that Sunderland were again under pressure to deliver.
Peterborough United began brightly, with wingers Marcus Maddison and Siriki Dembele seeing plenty of the ball.
Maddison in particular was a threat, drawing an early yellow card for Bryan Oviedo and registering the first shot on target of the game, albeit an effort that was easy to deal with for Jon McLaughlin.
The Black Cats slowly began to play their way into the game and went close ten minutes in where a clever short corner fell to Lewis Morgan on the edge of the area. His first touch took the defender out of the game but he could only drag a low drive on his left foot wide of the post.
George Honeyman had an effort from inside the box blocked after good build-up play saw Aiden McGeady play in Luke O'Nien, whose dangerous cutback was only just cleared by the home defence.
They had the ball in the net ten minutes later when Rhys Bennett stumbled trying to shepherd the ball out of play, Charlie Wyke pouncing to turn home, denied by the referee's whistle as he blew for an alleged foul by Wyke.
So dominant against Doncaster Rovers on Friday, Bennett was proving a far tougher opponent for Wyke but the target man grew in influence as the half developed.
He should have scored after a lovely counter attack from Sunderland, McGeady releasing Lee Cattermole in the centre circle.
The midfielder found Wyke one-on-one but his effort, taken on his weaker foot, was sliced wide of the post.
Peterborough were struggling to make much of an impression, though the left foot of Maddison remained a significant danger.
He flashed a long-range effort just wide of the post and then released striker Matt Godden with a stunning first-time pass inside his own half. Alim Ozturk did brilliantly, his positioning perfect as Godden's route to goal was blocked.
Sunderland were on top and it was only an excellent double save from Aaron Chapman that prevented them taking the lead just before a break.
A short corner saw Aiden McGeady cross to the back post, where Jimmy Dunne towered over his marker, Chapman just getting across to block. The loose ball fell for McGeady who curled an effort towards the top corner, Chapman again denying the Black Cats a vital opening goal.
The second half started with a crucial moment, the referee blowing for a foul after Maddison got free of an Oviedo challenge. Sunderland hearts were in mouths as Antony Coggins consulted with his linesman, eventually overturning his decision and booking Maddison for a dive.
The away side continued to look the better team but the final ball was just lacking, failing to take advantage of a number of promising crossing positions.
Conscious of the need for three points, Ross rolled the dice and replaced his captain George Honeyman with Will Grigg.
Peterborough were threatening only intermittently on the break, subsitute Ivan Toney making some dangerous runs beyond the defence.
The Black Cats continued to enjoy more possession and territory but were beginning to run out of steam, Chapman rarely called into action.
When the opener came, it was a stunning strike that left the Posh keeper helpless.
Sunderland broke with real pace and intent, Oviedo overlapping well and playing the ball inside. Max Power ran onto the pass and unleashed a fine effort, firing into the bottom corner.
The additional time meant it was always going to be a nervous finish but in the end it took Posh just a minute of the extra seven to level.
Toney held the ball up well and teed up Godden, who fired past a helpless Jon McLaughlin and into the far corner.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; O'Nien, Ozturk, Dunne, Oviedo; Cattermole, Power, Honeyman (Grigg, 64); Morgan (Gooch, 73), McGeady (Maguire, 78); Wyke
Subs: Ruiter, Flanagan, Leadbitter, Hume
Peterborough United XI: Chapman; Naismith, Knight, Bennett, Lafferty; Dembele (Ward, 63), Reed (Toney, 71), Cooper (Tomlin, 81), Woodyard, Maddison; Godden
Subs: O'Malley, White, Cooke, Burrows
Bookings: Oviedo, 2 Lafferty, 31 Maddison,47 O'Nien, 77