SUNDERLAND hopes of automatic promotion were ended by tonight’s 2-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town.

The Black Cats would have maintained an outside chance of a top two finish with victory against Joey Barton’s side this evening.

But the Cod Army fought back from a goal behind to secure all three points at the Highbury Stadium.

As a result, fourth placed Sunderland remain six points behind second placed Barnsley with just Saturday’s clash with the Shrimpers left to play in the regulation season.

Blues go into the game sitting 20th in the League One standings and are likely to have to win to avoid relegation.