Sunderland defender pinpoints the key area Cats need to improve if they are to survive

Adam Matthews in action for Sunderland.
Adam Matthews in action for Sunderland.
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Adam Matthews says Sunderland need to find their creative spark to boost the club's survival hopes.

Sunderland's latest defeat, the 1-0 loss at QPR, leaves the Black Cats without a win in nine games and four points adrift of safety with just nine Championship games remaining.

Matthews felt Sunderland - who had Jason Steele sent off for a handling outside his penalty area - were unfortunate at Loftus Road yet Sunderland failed to register a single shot on target.

"I don’t think we particularly played badly," reflected Matthews.

"We didn’t create much, really, and that’s something we need to look at but in the first half we limited them to hardly anything. Even at ten men I thought we were comfortable.

"They got their goal and defended well after that but at the end we put pressure on them and on another day we could have got a goal.

"We haven't scored that many goals this season, that has been a big problem for us.

"I think since the manager’s come in we’ve looked better as a back four or a back five and conceded fewer goals – there’s been the odd game where we haven’t worked well together – but on Saturday I think we looked solid enough.

"Once we went down to ten men they were going to have most of the ball.

"But we just need to get a goal. We’ve done well this season when we’ve scored first but on Saturday we didn’t really look like scoring until the last ten minutes," he told the club website.

Matthews admits the sending off didn't help, with Steele's howler leading to his early bath.

Steele was given his marching orders four minutes into the second half after he dashed outside of his penalty area to meet Darnell Furlong’s punt forward, misjudged the bounce of the ball and then used his hand to direct it away from QPR forward Paul Smyth.

Matthews added: "I just think everything’s gone against Sunderland, which is normally what happens when you’re in the position we are.

"In the first half we looked really solid and the sending-off was unfortunate, it didn’t help, but that’s what Steeley’s told to do by the manager, he wants him to sweep up, and it’s taken a big bounce off the dry pitch unfortunately he’s been sent off.

"I thought it was a bit harsh but it is what it is. Everything seems to be going against Sunderland at the minute but only we can turn that around."