Ethan Pinnock has previewed the upcoming Sky Bet League One match with Sunderland AFC, at the Stadium of Light.
The Reds travel up to the second placed Black Cats on Tuesday evening, who sit just one place above. The winner on the night will occupy the second automatic promotion place at full-time, but both teams will know there is a long way to go in the season.
Looking back at the draw with Doncaster Rovers at the weekend, ‘Man of the Match’ Pinnock was quick to admit the Reds weren’t at their best.
“It was clear to see we weren’t at our best,” he said. “But, in saying that, Donny played well. At the end of the day, we still got a point when we weren’t at our best so that says something about this team at the minute.”
The Reds are used to being in matches with an intense atmosphere with the majority of the squad remaining from last season in the ever-growing Championship, but the defender does state that sometimes they need to relax more as a squad when in these environments.
“It can be difficult because all the players want to do well, so you can get caught up in the occasion. I think it’s important to know that you’re in that position, so you need to be able to relax a bit and pick your best option, that’s something to put right against Sunderland.
“At Oakwell, teams don’t usually come at us, so we had more to do than usual against Doncaster as they did come at us. It just shows that you have to be ready when called upon, we need to make sure we do our job at the back as well.”
Since defeat away at Shrewsbury in the league, Pinnock and his teammates have put together a seven-match unbeaten run. A ‘coming together’ between the team has been important, the defender feels.
“You learn more in losses than in wins and especially in that loss, nobody really played well. We got together and had a long hard think, we knew we had something to prove and since then performances have bene better, we’ve been a lot tighter and more unified together.
“We’ve realised away from home we can’t always be that expansive, it was about game management and awareness of what was happening. That’s been better recently, now we want to look at scoring because we haven’t done that loads recently but we have been compact and looking to keep teams out. The new Gaffer has given us a different style, I think a lot of us have adapted well and we’ll improve as the season goes on.”
On Tuesday evening’s trip to Sunderland, Pinnock remembered the match there last season fondly. The towering central-defender netted the only goal of the game in a 0-1 victory, turning home a corner from Zeki Fryers in the second half.
“It’s a massive game.” He told the assembled media. “They got relegated along with us last season and it was a massive game when we played there last time as well. All the boys are really up for it, they’re all looking forward to it and we hope we can leave with the three points.
“I managed to get the winner there which was good, hopefully the same again! I’ve got one goal this season so hopefully I can add a few more throughout the season.”
The question was inevitably asked to Pinnock about league position. Should Daniel Stendel’s side emerge victorious from the Stadium of Light for a second time in 2018, it would see them move into the promotion places after 18 games.
“It’s still early doors, but you want to be in the places you want to finish as early as you can. If we can get the win we go into the top two spots so it’s an important game. Coming from playing where I was to going and scoring the winner at the SoL, if you had told me a few years ago I would be doing that then I would have said that are you talking about.”