Will Grigg woes and substitute struggles: Five key conclusions from Sunderland's Gillingham dra
While it won’t be a game that lives long in the memory, but Sunderland’s draw with Gillingham threw up plenty of learnings.
But what knowledge will Phil Parkinson have taken from the cup tie? We take a look:
A replay was the worst possible outcome for Sunderland
Let’s be frank – nobody wanted a replay.
Parkinson has long spoken about his desire to have a full week at the Academy of Light with his side, with the postponement of the Bristol Rovers fixture looking to have handed him that opportunity.
But now, with a replay at Gillingham beckoning, Sunderland’s ‘spare’ week now becomes geared towards another cup tie.
Attacking woes continue – but who (or what) is the solution?
It was another quiet afternoon for Will Grigg, as Sunderland’s woes in front of goal continue.
Aiden McGeady’s goal was the only time the Black Cats seriously threatened Jack Bonham – although Chris Maguire should have doubled their advantage before the break.
Parkinson, therefore, is still seeking a solution to arguably Sunderland’s biggest problem.
It seems only a matter of time before Marc McNulty, who has netted five already this term, is afforded an opportunity.
More is needed from the bench
Sunderland’s bench is packed with quality, with even Steve Evans alluding to that in his post-match press conference.
But the impact of the Black Cats’ substitutes has been limited this term. While McNulty and Duncan Watmore did little wrong on Saturday, nor did they exactly spark the hosts into life.
The FA Cup IS a priority
Sunderland’s priority this year is, naturally, League One – but Parkinson’s team selection suggested the FA Cup features high on his agenda.
Given the prize money potentially on offer, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Black Cats named a strong side.
Parkinson is clearly taking these clashes seriously, so expect that trend to continue if Sunderland can win the replay.
January cannot come soon enough
Sunderland are crying out for a fresh spark – something to lift both the mood both on and off the pitch.
With transfer plans having been discussed this week, Parkinson will be desperate for January to roll around so he can seek that spark in the market.