Match Report: Lads exit FA Cup

Gillingham 1-0 Sunderland

Sunderland exited the Emirates FA Cup tonight following defeat in their round one replay at Gillingham. 

In a game that saw neither side fashion many chances, Brandon Hanlan scored the game’s only goal in the first period of stoppage time.

The striker, who looked a threat throughout, looked fresh as if it was minute one when the ball was played into his path on 105 minutes before he slotted home.

The result sees the Black Cats exit the FA Cup while Steve Evan’s Gills will play host to Doncaster Rovers in round two.

Phil Parkinson was forced to shuffle his pack for tonight’s game as he was without 10 first-team faces. That saw Brandon Taylor handed his first senior start as the Black Cats boss opted for a 5-3-1-2 formation.

Taylor began on the right of a central three, with Alim Ozturk and Laurens De Bock alongside him. Grant Leadbitter and Max Power shielded the backline while Chris Maguire sat in the number 10 position behind a front two of Will Grigg and Duncan Watmore.

There was a freshness to the bench too, as Parkinson named five under-23 players which included Bali Mumba, Lee Connelly and Ruben Sammut.

Sunderland started on the front foot in what was a bitterly cold evening in Kent and did well to move the ball into some good areas to carve out a number of early chances. 

De Bock headed Maguire’s free-kick over from eight yards before Max Power’s cross-shot forced Jack Bonham to make his first stop 15 minutes in. 

Gillingham worked their way back into the tie but rarely tested Lee Burge between the posts for Sunderland, as Hanlan headed wide before Ozturk blocked his strike from distance.

However, neither side really landed a meaningful blow in what was largely a scrappy opening 45, and the sides went in level at the break. 

The second period continued in a similar fashion as Ozturk made another set of big blocks to ensure the scores remained level.

The Turkish defender impressively put his body on the line to deny Alex Jakubiak’s sweet volley from 20 yards.

The venomous strike sent Ozturk crashing to the deck, but Big Alim dusted himself down before De Bock floored Oliver Lee inside the box with a firm challenge.

Strong appeals for a penalty were heard from The Rainham End, but nothing was given as referee Alan Young waved play on. 

Parkinson looked to mix things up just after the hour mark by introducing Aiden McGeady for Duncan Watmore as the thought of extra time began to creep in. 

And the switch almost paid dividends minutes later, but Grigg’s effort flashed agonisingly wide after McGeady did well to slip him in. 

Taylor then came to Sunderland’s aid at the other end. The defender showed excellent awareness to get in front of the lively Hanlan and turn behind Lee’s cross from the right to take the take to extra time.

Gillingham were relentless in their approach to extra time as they built up a real head of steam before eventually taking the lead on the stroke of half time.

Max Ehmer crashed a vicious drive off the bar from the edge of the box, and that seemed to give the hosts the impetuous to get their noses in front as Hanlan struck in devastating fashion.

The Gills worked the ball out to the forward on the right and he took one touch to set himself before smacking past Burge to knock Sunderland out of the Emirates FA Cup.

Gillingham: Bonham, O’Keefe. Ehmer, Ogilvie, Hanlan, Fuller, Jones, Byrne, Lee, Jakubiak (Ndjoli, 59), Tucker
Subs: Walsh, Hodson, Charles-Cook, Cisse, Pringle, Marshall

Sunderland: Burge, O’Nien, Ozturk (Bainbridge, 90), Taylor, De Bock, Power, Leadbitter, Hume (McGeouch, 105), Maguire, Watmore (McGeady, 63), Grigg (Connelly, 113)
Subs: Patterson, Mumba, Sammut

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