Adam Matthews reflects on his return to the Sunderland team and a challenging clash with Barnsley
Adam Matthews was pleased to cap his return to the Sunderland starting XI with a clean sheet on a tough night at Oakwell.
Matthews had lost his place in the side due to the impressive form of Luke O’Nien in an unfamiliar right-back berth.
An injury to Reece James gave the Welshman his chance on the other flank, and the 27-year-old stood firm during an immensely testing first half.
Barnsley dominated the opening exchanges with the wind of Storm Gareth behind them.
Sunderland came through and improved in the second half, Max Power and Lee Cattermole going close to a winner.
Matthews says he has no issue with having had to wait for his return to the side and will draw the positives ahead of the visit of Walsall this weekend.
“We’ve got a good squad here and they’re doing really well so I had to wait for my chance,” he said.
“I came back in on Tuesday and it was a difficult game to play football in but I thought I did all right. The most important thing is the team and we didn’t lose and we kept a clean sheet.
“We wanted to win the game but we didn’t lose and we kept a clean sheet, so that was a positive. We’ll take a draw.
“Conditions weren’t great, especially in the first half,” he added.
“It felt like we were getting camped in because every time we cleared the ball it was coming back to us.
“They’re a good team, they’re above us at the minute, but the good thing is we didn’t lose.
“In the conditions it’s not a bad result for us. We kept a clean sheet and it keeps our unbeaten run going.
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“All in all, we’re happy with a point.”
Matthews says both sides will be happy with a point and underlined the importance of Sunderland maintaining their unbeaten run, which stretches back to the 3-1 reverse at Portsmouth just before Christmas.
“It was difficult, especially in the first half when we felt we couldn’t get out of our own half,” he said.
“The second half was a bit better but still difficult and they’re a good team.
“If you can’t get out of your half with the weather conditions they’re going to clamp you and create chances. I think Jon [McLaughlin] made one save and they hit the bar, but other than that I can’t think of many chances they had, apart from their disallowed goal for offside.
“I think we defended well in tough conditions and I think everyone will be happy.
“Even if the conditions had been nice, they’re a really good team so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” he added.
“I think they’re probably happy with a point, we’re probably happy with a point and we both move on from there. It’s a positive for us that we keep our unbeaten run going.”
Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel said the point suited his side better but leaves the race for second finely poised.
“We were a little bit better than Sunderland but in the end it is a draw and we keep the gap,” he said.
“The goal was to win but we are satisfied.
“Sunderland are good team and you can see we both have a chance to finish in the top two. I think the draw helps us more than it helps Sunderland. It is in our hands.”