Gillingham will be in the hat for the second round draw of the Emirates FA Cup after a strong second half showing at Sunderland.
For the second successive season, Gillingham face a first round replay in the Emirates FA Cup after a fine second half display earned a 1-1 draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Aiden McGeady’s shot from the edge of the box gave Sunderland an early lead, but Olly Lee’s second half shot found a way past Jon McLaughlin, and meant the sides will meet again at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
Gillingham manager Steve Evans made three changes to the side that were beaten at home by Rotherham United last week. Jack Tucker, Regan Charles-Cook and Alex Jakubiak all dropped out of the starting XI, with Barry Fuller, Olly Lee and Mikael Mandron coming into the team.
Sunderland had the first chance of the game five minutes in, as Aiden McGeady’s cross from the left found Will Grigg, but he was denied by an excellent block from Max Ehmer. After 14 minutes, the home side were ahead, when the ball dropped to McGeady on the edge of the area, and he struck a low shot which was massively deflected and made its way beyond Jack Bonham to make it 1-0.
The Gills responded immediately as Olly Lee’s free-kick was flicked on by Ogilvie, and brilliantly kept out by Jon McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal. The Gills broke again not long after with Mikael Mandron, who found Lee, and his cross just had too much on it for Brandon Hanlan on the far side.
After 35 minutes, Mandron took aim from the edge of the box, only to see his effort comfortably held by McLaughlin. Somehow Sunderland didn’t double their lead just before half time, as Laurens De Bock crossed for Chris Maguire, who fired his volley wide from just 12 yards out.
H/T: Sunderland 1-0 Gillingham
Within moments of the second period getting underway, the Gills levelled. O’Connor set up Lee for an effort from the edge of the box, and it squirmed through the hands of McLaughlin and over for the line to make it 1-1.
Gills were having much the better of the play after the break, piling pressure on the Sunderland goal, although it was the Black Cats who had the next half-chance. McGeady picked up the ball on the corner of the box, and chose to shoot, only to slice his shot well wide of the post.
They had another chance after 70 minutes as the ball fell kindly for substitute Marc McNulty on the edge of the area, but he was well closed down by the Gills defence, and his effort was deflected over the bar.
The Gills broke from the resulting corner, as Barry Fuller drove forward and found Lee, and his shot was well saved by McLaughlin. At the other end McNulty’s low ball into the box was just out of the reach of Luke O’Nien on the edge of the six-yard box.
It was end to end stuff as the game headed towards its conclusion, as the Gills attacked again, ending with Lee’s deflected shot rolling agonisingly wide of the post. The Gills came even closer seconds later when Brandon Hanlan broke down the right, and squared for Lee, who was just unable to make contact.
Sunderland were still a threat though, with McGeady’s wide free-kick causing confusion in the Gillingham box, but it was eventually gathered by Bonham. The Gills stopper was called into action once more as McGeady came inside from the left and tried to find the corner, but the ‘keeper got down to make a fine save.
With a minute left of added time, Gillingham made their first change, as goalscorer Lee was replaced by Regan Charles-Cook. The whistle sounded soon after, meaning a replay in Kent will be required.
F/T: Sunderland 1-1 Gillingham
Sunderland: McLaughlin, McLaughlin, Willis, Lynch, De Bock, Power, Dobson, McGeady, Maguire (Watmore 76), O’Nien, Grigg (McNulty 65)
Unused Subs: Burge, McGeouch, Flanagan, Kimpioka, Leadbitter
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ogilvie, Ehmer, O’Connor, Byrne, Jones, O’Keefe, Lee (Charles-Cook 92), Hanlan, Mandron
Unused Subs: Walsh, Hodson, Ndjoli, Pringle, Jakubiak, Tucker
Referee: Mr M Salisbury