Sunderlad recorded a 2-2 draw at home to Gillingham at the weekend, with Kyle Lafferty making his first league start since signing in January, scoring a brace.
The Black Cats entered the weekend looking to continue their push towards the automatic promotion places but needed to get back to winning ways after dropping five points in their last two games against Fleetwood Town and Coventry City.
They faced a Gillingham side firmly rooted in mid-table under Steve Evans, but the game failed to spark into life until after the interval, where the hosts took a deserved lead through Northern Ireland international Kyle Lafferty.
The towering striker powered home a header following a whipped cross from the left, but the hosts were pegged back by former Sunderland man Mikael Mandron in the 74th-minute.
Lafferty restored the home side’s lead with a smart finish where he latched onto a George Dobson through-ball to slot past Jack Bonham in the Gills’ goal.
Dobson ➡️⚽️ Lafferty 👌
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) March 8, 2020
However, this wasn’t enough for the three points to stay on Wearside as the visitors snatched a draw in the 96th-minute thanks to Mandron netting his second of the game, two more at the Stadium of Light than he managed throughout his (albeit short) tenure in the North East.
It was a refreshing sight for the Sunderland fans to see Lafferty handed his first start over Charlie Wyke and that came along with Dobson making his 15th consecutive start under Phil Parkinson.
Highlights of the striker’s second goal sparked a lot of discussion about Lafferty’s starting prospects…
Lafferty starts every game when fit for me. No disrespect to Wyke but Lafferty is a international striker and his all round game is on another level to Charlie’s.
— Wayne Davis (@Wayne_Davis81) March 8, 2020
Cannot get over how good that pass was. Inch perfect and precision weighted. Brilliant @georgedobson97
— Julie (@juliesund) March 8, 2020
Can you remember Sunderland’s last 15 top goalscorers?
Grigg and lafferty up top. 5 at the back ain’t working
— HAWAY THE LADS (@Declanprice12) March 8, 2020
Great performance from Lafferty But we needed the win !!! He Has to Start and we have to learn how to shut up shop when we need to in these vital games 😌😉please not playoffs again 🙏🙏🙏🙏
— Chef Paul Askew (@Porkyaskew) March 8, 2020
not seen a goal like this for ages a ball thru the middle then finish
— hulk cass🔴⚪🔴⚪ (@hulkcass10) March 8, 2020
dobson is the most underrated player we’ve got who gets unnecessary stick
— d.hume.fans_33 (@hume_33) March 8, 2020
Play 442 with lafferty and semenyo or grigg up top
— Aiden_SAFC 🤝 (@thedogewalker) March 8, 2020
Lafferty’s run is spot on, his speed and composure are light years ahead of Wyke
— Gareth Rossiter-Summers (@SummersRossiter) March 8, 2020