Sunderland defender reflects on remarkable turnaround and why he's thrilled to be repaying the club's supporters
Adam Matthews admits he got away with a '˜brainfreeze' in the dying moments of the Bristol Rovers win.
The Welshman tried to atone for his error by cleaning out the onrushing opponent, but the ball broke free and fortunately for the Black Cats, Steffan Payne could only hit the bar .
It would have been harsh on Matthews, who has gone from strength to strength this season and established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet.
His first half goal, a composed header at the back post, was fitting rewards for weeks of enterprising displays.
That late error was surprising mainly because he has generally been so solid at the back, too.
For the 26-year-old, finally getting a good stretch of games is beginning to pay off.
“The management have been great with everyone,” he said.
“It’s a big part of how we’re playing this season, he wants the full backs to get forward which I enjoying doing.
“Every footballer just needs a run of games to show what they can do.
“Thankfully I’ve had that this season and hopefully I’m showing everyone what I’m about. Hopefully I can keep that going.”
“I said at the start of the season that I was happy to stay and nothing has changed.
“If anything, you just want to stay that little bit more.
“The management has been great, the new players have integrated really well and I think we look like a really good team, if we can keep playing the way we ae then hopefully we can be back in the Championship next year.”
Matthews is one of a handful of experienced players in the Sunderland squad adjusting to life in the third tier for the first time.
A big part of Jack Ross’s job has been to encourage them to see the opportunity for a memorable season and that is a sentiment echoed by Matthews.
“The past is the past, it’s pointless looking back on what you’ve done,” he said.
“You’ve got to look forward at the things you can do in the future.
“I’m happy at Sunderland and if you win a league, that’s a great achievement, no matter what league.”
The win over Bristol Rovers was Sunderland’s sixth league success at the Stadium of Light this season, and they remain unbeaten on home turf in that competition.
It is a big turnaround from the last campaign and Matthews says he is trilled to be repaying the backing of the Sunderland supporters.
“The whole attitude, you’ve got players who want to be here,” he said.
“Everyone wants to play for the shirt.
“The main thing was getting the supporters back onside because they’ve had a really tough time in recent years.
“They’ve been brilliant so hopefully we can get the club back to where they deserve it to be.
“Everyone who comes here [to the Stadium] can see that the atmosphere has completely changed,” he added.
“That’s just what happens if you don’t win games of football, fans have the right to let you know and these fans deserve a lot more than what they’ve had in the last couple of seasons.
“The support we’ve had this season, even when we haven’t played that well they’ve been right behind us.
“From top to bottom, it has been brilliant.
“The supporters, even last season they were brilliant.
“We were nowhere near where we needed to be , nowhere near good enough but they supported us in numbers.
“Hopefully we can get back this year.”