Published: 07:46, 09 March 2020
| Updated: 07:53, 09 March 2020
Gillingham boss Steve Evans has challenged star man Mikael Mandron to repeat his weekend heroics again.
The Frenchman scored twice at his former club, Sunderland, netting a 96th-minute equaliser as the game ended 2-2.
Evans brought Mandron back into the starting XI on Saturday and his faith in the striker was rewarded.
“I am pleased for him as a kid,” said Gills manager Evans.
“He would have gone home happy but he has to do that against other teams in the league, not just Sunderland. It must be easy to do it at Sunderland, you embrace it.
“He was broken-hearted when he left the club and when we drew them in the FA Cup (earlier in the season) it was like we had won the lottery (for him). It was an easy decision to start him.
“I have been there as a kid, you are broken-hearted when a football club passes you on and lets you go.
“They do it for the right reasons but it doesn’t stop you wanting to go back and wanting to score a goal or do something.
“When Olly Lee set him up for the second goal I knew he would have a great strike. There was a question whether (the Sunderland goalkeeper) Jon McLaughlin could get across but it was a great finish.
"We know he can put it right into the corner, he has got that quality.”
Mandron’s double ensured the Gills bagged a point that keeps them eight points outside the top six, and a play-off place.
It was Gills’ fourth game against Sunderland, a League 1 giant. Evans’ men drew against them in the FA Cup previously before beating them in a replay and have now backed up a win over them in the league at Priestfield with a draw at the Stadium of Light.
Evans said: “They are a terrific club and we know the benchmark.
“We are trying to compete against them but we can only compete against them on the pitch, we can’t compete off it, in anything we do. We can compete on it, by finding a way to get a win.
“We found a way, we competed, despite giving away two poor goals, one of which was offside.”
Evans admitted after the game that he was still upset about the previous week’s defeat to AFC Wimbledon, but happy to see them bounce back.
“I picked the wrong team and the wrong shape,” he said, about the 2-1 loss to lowly Wimbledon, a result which ended their 15-game unbeaten league run.
“My dressing room give everything they have every week. What we lack for in quality we have to make up for in effort and commitment.
“As a kid, sometimes when your daddy walks back in the house and he is in a bad mood because you’ve done wrong, you know he knows and that is enough, and that is how we managed that.
“We have had a good reaction from the boys.”