Phil Parkinson reacts to Sunderland's disappointing second-half showing and has this message for his players
Phil Parkinson said his Sunderland side must be ‘stronger’ after the frustrating 1-1 draw with Gillingham in the FA Cup first round.
An error from Jon McLaughlin allowed the visitors to force a replay and they could well have won it in the closing stages.
Parkinson said ‘you can’t legislate’ for the mistake that saw Oliver Lee’s free-kick drop over the line, but admitted his side were ‘physically second best’ thereafter.
“There’s big moments in games,” Parkinson said.
“Chris Maguire’s chance just before half time, if that goes in it’s game over.
“I thought we were decent first half, switched the play well, got in some decent areas, delivered well into the box, got a goal.
“We spoke at half time about Gillingham coming out with a bit more of an aggressive style to their play, then we lost two cheap headers, didn’t do well enough, give away a free kick in the space of 30 seconds.
“Then obviously you can’t legislate for the goal we conceded with the mistake from Jon,” he added.
“I felt the goal lifted them and knocked us too much. I know I’m taking over a team that’s drawn a lot of games, one of the areas that I’ve seen today is, yeah, things go against you in games, and when they do you’ve got to respond better than we did today.
“In areas after their goal we were physically second best.
“They were physical, got the ball forward, their front two ran the channels, and we didn’t respond as I would have liked and we’ve got to learn from that.”
He urged his side to be stronger in difficult moments and said they must show their ‘resilience’ in the replay.
“I think it’s [about] being stronger as a group,” he said.
“You’re not 3-0 up against Tranmere all the time, with everyone enjoying themselves and letting you play.
“Sometimes you've got to roll your sleeves up and get through a period in the game and I don’t think we did that.
“We’ve got another bite of the cherry, we’ve got to do it the hard way and make sure we’re resilielent enough to get into round two.”