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Match Preview: The magic of the cup returns as skeletal Sunderland take on Gillingham (again)...

A skeletal Sunderland side face Gillingham tonight for a place in the second round of the FA Cup. It might not be glamorous, but Phil Parkinson will still be looking for improvement from his side.

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sunderland make the long slog to Kent this evening where the stakes could not be higher. Playing in the white hot atmosphere of a sparsely populated Priestfield, the Lads and Gillingham will do battle to see who gets the gold of a fixture in a sparsely populated stadium against AFC Wimbledon or Doncaster Rovers.

While the FA Cup is not on Sunderland’s list of priorities, following the abhorrent display against Scunthorpe United last time out, Phil Parkinson desperately needs a victory to put a halt to an alarming run of form.

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Parky Says…

We didn’t get the job done against Gillingham at home and now we must go down there and win on Tuesday evening if we want to progress.

The volume of support up here is greater than I’ve experienced before. There is an expectancy because of the size of the club but it’s something I am really enjoying.

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Team News

Joel Lynch, George Dobson and Jordan Willis have joined Charlie Wyke and Lynden Gooch on the sidelines and are unavailable for the trip to Gillingham. It means Sunderland will head to Kent without their first choice centre backs which provides an opportunity for members of the under-23s squad to make the step up.

Parkinson mentioned that both Jack Bainbridge and Brandon Taylor will make the trip while the manager also confirmed that Will Grigg is back after an illness and Lee Burge will start in goal.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Premier League 2 Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images

View From The Opposition

Gillingham took advantage of their League One rivals’ lack of games at the weekend to move up to 14th with a win over Lincoln City. The Gills’ have lost just once in their last five games and will look to make it three consecutive victories when Sunderland arrive at Priestfield.

Boss Steve Evans confirmed that he would be making changes to his side that recorded a 1-0 win over Lincoln. Evans told the club’s official website that they will be without defender Tommy O’Connor who is still on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

Evans said:

Sunderland will be very tough. The reality is that they are one of the giants in League One, have a brilliant squad of players to call on plus a very talented Manager in Phil Parkinson.

I have no thoughts on the next round and what it might be. We will need to produce another top class performance to win on Tuesday and we will need a very passionate support inside Priestfield to help us deliver our objective.

There is no doubt what is being generated here is a real togetherness on and off the pitch.... after all, we are in this together!!

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Match Stats

Venue: Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham
Kick-off: 7.45pm
Referee:
Current position: 16th (League One)
Last season position: 13th (League One)
Last season FA Cup performance: Lost at 4th round vs Swansea City

Last 5 results:

SAFC

(LT) Scunthorpe United (A) 0-3
(FAC) Gillingham (H) 1-1
(L1) Leicester City U21 (H) 1-2
(L1) Southend United (H) 1-0
(LC) Oxford United (A) 1-1 (2-4 on pens)

GFC

(L1) Lincoln City (H) 1-0
(LT) Tottenham Hotspur U21 (H) 2-0
(FAC) Sunderland (A) 1-1
(L1) Rotherham United (H) 0-3
(L1) Accrington Stanley (A) 1-0

The Lads at Gillingham

22 Aug 2018 (L1) Gillingham 1-4 Sunderland (Maguire, Honeyman, Power, Maja)
11 Sep 2004 (CH) Gillingham 0-4 Sunderland (Stewart 3, Elliott)
04 Nov 2003 (D1) Gillingham 1-3 Sunderland (Downing, Oster, Stewart)
15 Sep 1987 (D3) Gillingham 0-0 Sunderland
14 May 1987 (D2) Gillingham 3-2 Sunderland (Proctor 2)

The Lads in the FA Cup 1st Round

2019/20 Sunderland 1-1 Gillingham (McGeady)
2018/19 Port Vale 1-2 Sunderland (Honeyman, Gooch)
1987/88 Sunderland 2-0 Darlington (Atkinson 2)

Top goalscorers (in all competitions)

4 - Alex Jakubiak
3 - Brandon Hanlan
3 - Olly Lee
3 - Mikael Ndjoli
2 - Alfie Jones

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Last Time We Met

It was 10 days ago and Jon McLaughlin chucked one in his own net.

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images