Doncaster Rovers’ boss Darren Moore admitted his side had been in a real battle following their defeat to Sunderland.
Rovers were sunk by Chris Maguire’s goal on the hour mark after they failed to find a late leveller.
A frustrated Moore said: “We knew it was going to be a physical game, it was a real battle with the two contrasting styles.
“We did not have the best starts with them scoring so early, but the boys battled back into it really well and we got level.
“I thought we started the second half good and it was a very even match. But they got the break and hung on to it,
“They got men behind the ball and made it hard for us to break them down.”
They got the break and hung on to it. They got men behind the ball and made it hard for us to break them down.Darren Moore
Rovers found themselves trailing after just six minutes when Lyndon Gooch curled in a beauty.
Charlie Wyke went close with two efforts, before Seny Timothy Dieng saved well to deny Maguire on 18 minutes.
Jon Taylor levelled for Rovers five minutes before the break after getting on the end of Kieran Sadlier’s cross, although Maguire smacked the crossbar with a 25 yard free-kick on the stroke of half-time.
Rovers were given another massive let off when Wyke blazed over from a yard out four minutes after the re-start.
Maguire deservedly fired the Black Cats in front on 61 minutes after Gooch’s cross opened up the defence.
Dieng saved brilliantly to keep out Luke O’Nien on 79 minutes before Sunderand held on for the win.
Doncaster Rovers: Dieng, Halliday, Anderson, Wright, John (Thomas 81), Whiteman, Gomes, Sadlier, Coppinger (Watters 90), Taylor, Ennis. Unused substitutes: Lawlor, James, Sheaf, Greaves, Daniels.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk, Lynch, O’Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume, Maguire, Wyke, Gooch (Watmore 80). Unused substitutes: McLaughlin, McNulty, Burge, Grigg, Leadbitter, De Bock
Referee: Carl Boyeson.