PHIL BARDSLEY believes Sunderland have the platform to profit from successive festive home games.
Wednesday night’s last-gasp win at QPR gave Sunderland some breathing space from the drop zone with three points now separating the Black Cats from the bottom three.
A second victory in three under new boss Martin O’Neill has also boosted Sunderland’s self-belief after a five-game winless streak prior to the ex-Aston Villa manager’s arrival.
Sunderland now face back-to-back home games on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, although both promise to be testing against Everton and table-topping Manchester City.
The Black Cats have not beaten Boxing Day opponents Everton home or away in 10 years, while City boast a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Full-back Bardsley said: “Everyone always talks about the Christmas programme being important so it’s nice to have some momentum to take into it.
“We’ve got a couple of home fixtures coming up now and we can go back to our stadium with a bit of confidence.
“We’ve done a lot of travelling recently with two games in London back to back and it would have been a bit of a blow to have come away with just one point from them.
“That’s why it was vital we came back to win at QPR.”
Bardsley hailed the character shown at Loftus Road after Sunderland saw their two-goal lead wiped out within four second half minutes.
After their stirring comeback, it looked as if QPR would go on to secure only a second home victory of the season.
But Sunderland rallied with Wes Brown’s first goal in red and white proving sufficient for the Black Cats to prevail.
“It took a lot of spirit to shrug off the disappointment of conceding the lead,” added Bardsley.
“There have been many times this season where we’ve caved in when things like that have happened, so it’s a good sign that we were able to regroup and come at them again.
“We were brave when we had to be – we put our head in where it hurts to make clearances at one end of the field and wanted to get on the ball and attack at the other.
“We deserved the victory and it was nice to come away with what we deserved for once.”