Match Report: Lads held at home

Sunderland were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw with Gillingham at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, after Mikael Mandron’s 96th minute equaliser. 


There was nothing to separate the sides at the break, with the Black Cats going closest through Lynden Gooch early on.

Sunderland turned it up a gear in the second-half when Lafferty nodded home to clinch his first goal for the club. 

The Lads were dealt an instant setback though, when Mandron responded with a finish of his own.

But Lafferty took the game by the scruff of the neck once again, as he prodded home with little under 10 minutes to go. 

In the sixth minute of injury time, Mandron came back to haunt his former club by firing into the bottom corner as points were shared on Wearside. 

Phil Parkinson made one change to his starting XI, with Lafferty replacing the injured Charlie Wyke to make his first start for the Lads.

Sunderland Academy graduate Mandron led the line for the Gills, as the visitors came into the contest having lost just one of their previous 16 games. 

Both sides struggled to create any clear-cut chances in the opening stages, with the Lads’ best opportunity to break the deadlock coming 18 minutes in. 

Denver Hume played a clever one-two with Lynden Gooch down the left, before firing a dangerous cross into the six-yard box that just evaded Lafferty.  

Gooch was again the orchestrator in the following attack as the Black Cats looked to hit the front. 

The USA international picked the ball up deep and slipped Lafferty in behind, but Gills’ stopper Jack Bonham was quick off his line to clear.  

And on the half-hour mark the Lads should have been ahead. 

Luke O’Nien and Jordan Willis interchanged down the right before the former delivered a teasing cross. 

Hume met the ball at the back post and nodded down for Gooch, but he was unable to add to his 10 league goals as Bonham made the block from close range.

The Lads kept pushing and on the stroke of half-time the opener almost came from the unlikely source of Tom Flanagan, when the defender took aim for 18-yards but fired inches wide of the post.

It took Gillingham 54 minutes to test Jon McLaughlin, when Jordan Graham pounced quickest on a loose ball and struck towards goal, but Sunderland’s number one was equal to it and parried to safety.

Sunderland then raced up the field on the counterattack and Lafferty missed a glorious opportunity to take the lead as he fired wide from 10-yards.

But Lafferty wouldn’t pass up the next opportunity to grab his first goal in red and white.

The lively Hume once again found space down the left and whipped in towards Lafferty, who duly obliged and powered home a header in the 64th minute.

But Sunderland were pegged back 10 minutes later as Mandron came back to haunt his former club. 

The Black Cats failed to deal with Connor Ogilvie’s long throw and Mandron's effort found the bottom corner. 

And it could have been worse for the home side in the following attack, if not for a magnificent save from McLaughlin at full-stretch to deny Mandron his second.  

McLaughlin’s save proved crucial as Sunderland got themselves back in front in the following attack.  

George Dobson picked the ball up in the middle of the park and played an inch perfect pass to Lafferty, who composed himself and slotted into the corner.  

But in the dying stages the Lads were dealt a gut-wrenching blow when Mandron slotted into the bottom corner from the edge of the area, as the points were shared on Wearside.   

Sunderland AFC: J McLaughlin, Willis, Ozturk (Semenyo 81), Power, Maguire (Scowen 85), Lafferty, Gooch, Flanagan, O’Nien, Dobson, Hume (Lynch 89)  

Subs not used: Burge, Watmore, McLaughlin, Grigg 

Gillingham: Bonham, O’Keefe, Ehmer (Akinde 72), Ogilvie, Hanlan, Mandron, Roberts (O’Connor 61), Fuller, Jones, Graham (Lee 58), Tucker  

Subs not used: Walsh, Willock, Charles-Cook, Pringle  

Attendance: 29,822 

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