Published: 14:45, 09 November 2019
| Updated: 14:57, 09 November 2019
Olly Lee struck to earn Gillingham a second shot at Sunderland after his free-kick was fumbled into the net by keeper Jon McLaughlin.
The hosts led at the break in the FA Cup first round tie, thanks to Aiden McGeady’s deflected effort, but Lee levelled it up early in the second half.
Gillingham may have been given a helping hand by the keeper but they were well worthy of the draw, ensuring their name is in round two along with Sunderland.
Gills boss Steve Evans made three changes to his starting eleven, including former Sunderland player Mikael Mandron upfront to partner Brandon Hanlan in attack.
Sunderland went strong, with just one change to their last league line-up as Laurens De Bock returned to the side. Gills keeper Jack Bonham was forced into an early save to deny the lively McGeady.
The home side made an early breakthrough and it was McGeady who got the goal, striking a low shot past Bonham, finding the net through a crowded area infront of the Gills keeper, who had been left flat-footed.
Gillingham responded well to going behind with Conor McLaughlin heading against his own post and the visitors also being presented a chance on the break that they couldn’t capitalise on. Mandron, Hanlan and Olly Lee combined on a three-on-three situation but the home side cleared.
Sunderland were getting plenty of balls into Gills’ box and a corner from Chris Maguire somehow missed everyone when it just needed a touch.
Home keeper Jon McLaughlin had a routine save to make, denying Mandron from the edge of the box. Just before the half time whistle sounded, Maguire volleyed a chance wide from close range.
The Gills were level within a minute of the game restarting, from a well-struck free-kick.
Lee hesitated to take the kick, as Luke O’Nien continued to ignore the 10-yard rule from the set-piece. He eventually let rip with a shot that had too much power for keeper McLaughlin, who fumbled and allowed the ball to slip between his legs and over the line.
McGeady smashed a shot wildly wide on the hour after the Gills had seen plenty of the ball without being able to make it count following their equaliser.
Marc McNulty was a threat when he came on for the hosts and had a shot deflected over the bar. With 15 minutes left there were chances for both sides to take the lead.
Lee warmed the hands of the home keeper with a long range shot and had another deflected wide, those chances coming either side of one for Sunderland, with O’Nien a whisker away from sliding onto a low cross infront of goal.
Lee missed a golden chance for the Gills with 10 minutes left, Sunderland defending well to win the ball at the far post after Hanlan had beaten Joel Lynch for pace before sending in an inviting cross.
Bonham was at full stretch to deny McGeady with a minute left as the match ended level.
Sunderland: J McLaughlin, C McLaughlin, Lynch, Willis, Power, Maquire (Watmore 78mins), O’Nien, Dobson, McGeady, Grigg (McNulty 66mins), De Bock. Subs not used: Burge, McGeouch, Flanagan, Leadbitter, Kimpioka.
Gillingham: Bonham, Fuller, Ogilvie, O’Connor, Ehmer, Jones, O’Keefe, Byrne, Lee (Charles-Cook 90mins), Mandron, Hanlan. Subs not used: Walsh, Hodson, Tucker, Pringle, Ndjoli, Jakubiak.
More by this authorLuke Cawdell