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Gillingham boss Steve Evans disappointed his team didn't finish Sunderland off at the Stadium of Light

Gillingham boss Steve Evans admitted his team took a while to get going on Saturday but in the end had done enough to win the match.

Evans’ side drew the first round FA Cup match 1-1 after Olly Lee cancelled out Aiden McGeady first half opener.

Steve Evans gets his message across as the Gills improve in the second half at Sunderland Picture: Ady Kerry (21252995)
Steve Evans gets his message across as the Gills improve in the second half at Sunderland Picture: Ady Kerry (21252995)

“We came alive second half because we pressed the ball,” said the Gills boss.

“We had worked on a plan for most of the week but the disappointing thing was that we didn’t activate it first half and we had to strip it back to basics.

“We went through again what we had worked on the earlier part of the week and in large parts we did that second half.”

Lee levelled the game shortly after the restart when keeper Jon McLaughlin dropped his free-kick through his legs and was unable to react quick enough to stop it rolling over the line.

Brandon Hanlan on the ball for the Gills at Sunderland Picture: Ady Kerry (21252990)
Brandon Hanlan on the ball for the Gills at Sunderland Picture: Ady Kerry (21252990)

Evans said: “I know Jon McLaughlin, a Scottish boy, and he won’t make many mistakes like that, he is an outstanding goalkeeper.

“We have had it, a goalkeeper makes a mistake and it’s normally a goal isn’t it?

“If he didn’t make that mistake I would be really disappointed, almost devastated, if we didn’t get something out of that game with the good chances we created.

“We were disappointed to go in behind first half and that we didn’t have a threatening aspect to our game. We went back to what we worked on Monday, Tuesday and how we could get a result at Sunderland. Second half it worked.”

Olly Lee fires at goal - moments before the keeper drops it into the net Picture: Ady Kerry (21252992)
Olly Lee fires at goal - moments before the keeper drops it into the net Picture: Ady Kerry (21252992)

The Gills had been underdogs in the match, against their big-spending League 1 opponents. Home boss Phil Parkinson named a strong team but Evans’ players went home disappointed they weren’t leaving as winners.

Evans said: “When you go to a club like Sunderland you have to have belief, character and we showed that second half and on balance we are unfortunate to have a replay.

“I very seldom open it up (to the dressing room after the game) but I asked them for their comments and I said ‘how does it feel?’ To a man they said they were disappointed that we’ve drawn and that is a credit to the second half performance.”


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