SUNDERLAND continued their march to promotion as they came from behind to beat Oxford 3-1 ahead of the crunch trip to Peterborough.
Lee Johnson’s men stretched their unbeaten run in League One to 11 as Lynden Gooch, AIden McGeady and Max Power struck after James Henry’s opener.
That left them two points behind with a game in hand against second-placed Posh going into the Easter Monday showdown.
Oxford capitalised on a counter-attack to take the lead on 21 minutes as Brandon Barker rolled the ball to James Henry to drill home a low finish from the corner of the box.
Aiden McGeady forced Jack Stephens into a diving save with a free-kick as the hosts looked to get back on level terms.
And the Black Cats did manage to claw themselves level seconds before the break in additional time thanks to the magic feet of Jordan Jones.
The on-loan Rangers winger’s trickery left Hanson’s head spinning as he brilliantly broke into the area down the right and slid the ball across goal for Lynden Gooch to get in front of his marker and prod home for his fourth of the campaign.
The U’s had been the side during the first period, and they continued to cause the most threat following the restart, until a crucial end-to-end moment on 61 minutes proved key.
Sunderland top scorer Charlie Wyke was just about to pull the trigger after finding himself clean through but was denied by Hanson’s excellent last-ditch tackle.
Instantly the action was up the other end, but Mark Sykes’ lunging attempt to get the loose led to him catching Luke O’Nien and resulted in a second yellow card and his marching orders.
Oxford were still offering a threat as Elliott Moore came close with a header but the numerical advantage soon started to take its toll.
Gooch rifled a low drive across goal before sub Ross Stewart met his cross but headed straight at the keeper.
Jones then unleashed a thumping strike from 20-yards that cannoned back off the bar as Johnson’s men pushed forward for a late winner.
Towering Moore in particular was proving to be on a one-man mission to stop the Black Cats, but eventually the pressure proved too much.
Sunderland caught Oxford napping with a quick but hotly-disputed free-kick after a foul on Chris Maguire by Cameron Brannagan.
Gooch dribbled down the right of the area and pulled the ball back for McGeady to slot home from the edge of the box.
Oxford boss Karl Robinson was raging and received his marching orders for his furious protests and was forced to watch on frustratingly as his team conceded a third at the death as Power finished off a counter before inciting things further by celebrating in front of the visiting bench.
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds