Gaffer | "The replay will be tough"

Gills boss heaps praise on his side's second half display and feels victory was within their grasp.

Steve Evans was delighted with his side’s second half performance to earn a replay in their Emirates FA Cup First Round tie with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, but was disappointed that not to win the tie after creating several opportunities.

A goal early in the second half from Olly Lee cancelled out Aiden McGeady’s opener, while the Gills also created a number of good chances in the final stages of the match to book their place in the second round.

The Gillingham manager said: “In the second half we just said to them get on the front foot, pass the ball and be brave, if we lose 3-0, we lose 3-0. We did play expansive football, at one point I think we were playing 4-2-4, away from home at Sunderland, that’s pretty unique. But we know it’s going to be tough in the replay.”

Evans praised the performance of Lee, who played in behind a front two of Brandon Hanlan and Mikael Mandron, and grabbed the Gills equaliser. He said: “He’s a great kid, he plays with real pride, and plays with the same manner as his dad did. I think he’s had five or six efforts on goal second half, and he’s very unlucky that another one doesn’t go in.”

The Gills gaffer also had praise for left-back Tommy O’Connor, who has been called by Republic of Ireland U21s for the upcoming international break. He said: “We’ll miss him. He’s a talented young boy and he turns up every day, he’s got a smile on his face.”