Both Coventry City and Sunderland went into the game looking to capitalise on the shortcomings of the majority of the top 10 with only Portsmouth, Oxford United and Doncaster Rovers picking up maximum points this weekend.
The fixture also brought up the milestone of the 200th game in charge for Sky Blues boss Mark Robins – and a win could give City a two-point lead at the top of Sky Bet League One table.
Equally, if Sunderland emerge victorious, they can find themselves in the automatic places at the end of the day.
The Sky Blues came right out of the blocks from kick-off with Liam Walsh and Callum O’Hare linking up nicely within the first minute to fashion out a half-chance. O’Hare managed to get a low cross off, but McLaughlin smothered the Sky Blue advance.
Only a minute later and Matty Godden had given City an emphatic lead with what was his first touch of the contest.
Jamie Allen slipped a ball in-behind the Black Cat defence which Godden ran onto and smashed past McLaughlin.
The intensity City showed in the first five minutes then began to decline somewhat and as a result, the visitors began to grow into the game.
The clear chances were few and far between, but Sunderland would think themselves unlucky not to be on level terms after 20 minutes. Chris Maguire sent a deep, in-swinging freekick from the right to the back post where Tom Flanagan was unmarked, but the defender could only guide his volley over the bar.
The first thirty minutes showed why one of these two teams could finish the day in the automatic promotion places with the football spending most of its time on the floor and the long ball rarely used – a tie that could be mistaken for second tier football.
Just after the half-hour mark, the Sky Blues conceded a soft corner kick which Sunderland nearly took full advantage of.
It was Maguire on the delivery once again who whipped a wicked cross into the front post which was met by Charlie Wyke and headed over the bar.
Half-time soon came around with the visitors building up a head of steam but City saw the first 45-minutes out successfully with Godden’s strike still separating the two sides.
HALF-TIME: Sky Blues 1 – 0 Sunderland
The second half got off to a frantic start with the wind and rain now acting as a third participant of the contest.
Sky Blues captain Liam Kelly was adamant that City should have had a penalty awarded after receiving a push in the back from former teammate Jordan Willis from a right-wing cross - referee Michael Salisbury disagreed and waved play on.
Both sets of fans were undeterred from the deterioration of the weather and grew louder as the game became a battle in the middle of the park.
City carved out a promising chance just after the hour mark with some tidy play between Dabo, Allen and Godden.
Allen then drove to the by-line and pulled the ball back to Godden who laid it off to Kelly on the edge of the box who couldn’t get over the ball and blasted it over McLaughlin’s crossbar.
With just over 15 minutes left on the clock, Sunderland replied to Godden’s opener – or so they thought.
After deliberation between Salisbury and his linesman, Luke O'Nien was adjudged to be offside after Max Power smashed his shot goalward for it to take a huge deflection on its way past the diving Marko Marosi - City’s lead was restored.
City then had a golden chance heading into the final embers of the match as a clearance from Sam McCallum bounced over the head of the final defender and Godden was bearing down on goal.
The presence of the defender on his coattails seemed to have forced the striker’s hand as he took the shot early on the edge of the box and McLaughlin watched the effort bounce safely wide of his goal.
The visitors then began building the pressure as three minutes of added time were announced at St. Andrew's, though, the City defence answered every question asked of them as the Sky Blue's rose to the top of the Sky Bet League One table.
FULL-TIME: Sky Blues 1 - 0 Sunderland
Goals: Godden ‘2
Attendance: 10,055 (3,323 away)
Sky Blues Xl: Marko Marosi (GK), Fankaty Dabo, Dom Hyam, Kyle McFadzean, Michael Rose, Sam McCallum, Liam Kelly (C), Liam Walsh, Jamie Allen (Amadou Bakayoko ’79), Callum O'Hare, Matty Godden (Jordan Shipley '93).
Unused Subs: Ben Wilson (GK), Josh Pask, Ryan Giles, Zain Westbrooke, Max Biamou.
Sunderland AFC XI: Jon McLaughlin (GK), Tom Flanagan, Jordan Willis (Antoine Semenyo 78’), Alim Ozturk, Denver Hume (Kyle Lafferty ’69), Max Power (C), George Dobson, Luke O’Nien, Chris Maguire, Lynden Gooch, Charlie Wyke
Unused Subs: Lee Burge (GK), Conor McLaughlin, Joel Lynch, Josh Scowen, Will Grigg.