It was the ultimate consequence no-1 wished.
A lot lower than eight,000 followers had been fascinated ample to attend Sunderland’s FA Cup preliminary spherical tie in the direction of Gillingham, and little or no they witnessed may have whetted their urge for meals for the replay at Priestfield.
It was a boring sport performed in an eerie ambiance with nearly 85 p.c of the seats on the Stadium of Lightweight nonetheless left vacant – the sight of Jon McLaughlin functioning into the vacant South Stand to retrieve the ball underlined the stage.
It was not a historical past minimal attendance on the stadium – the much-maligned EFL Trophy has delivered extra compact attendances each ultimate interval and this – however this was the FA Cup, the world’s oldest knockout ranges of competitors.
Sunderland supporters voted with their ft, some no query dispirited at their staff’s incapability to mount a advertising drawback, others weary proper after seeing the midweek defeat on the palms of Leicester U21s within the Trophy, the early kick-off may have set off a a number of, and a few supporters may have decided versus spending out for an extra recreation towards a League A single rival.
Individuals who did change out may have accomplished so out of a mix of habits and blind loyalty.
The truth is the magic of the FA Cup doesn’t solid its spell till ultimately third spherical working day.
The early rounds are a grind, particularly for a membership that’s not utilized to moving into the opponents at this part.
Final 12 months Sunderland ended up drawn away within the very first and second rounds, and the 2nd-round replay in opposition to Walsall on Wearside solely attracted a bunch of simply over eight,200.
The membership’s solely previous very first spherical home tie, again once more in 1987, captivated 16,000 to Roker Park however that was in the direction of near-neighbours Darlington who may have launched a sizeable subsequent of their possess.
So the attendance, when very low, was not the most important situation on Saturday.
A bigger fret was nonetheless yet one more stodgy normal efficiency.
It has not been a terrific pair of months for Sunderland, to position it mildly.
Defeat at Shrewsbury Metropolis within the league, a Carabao Cup exit at Oxford United on penalties, a just-plenty of 1- dwelling league win towards next-to-base Southend United final weekend, then the midweek humiliation of a defeat from Leicester’s younger kids on the Stadium of Delicate.
Now we are able to embody a lacklustre performance versus Gillingham within the cup.
Phil Parkinson named the strongest line-up he had available in opposition to the Gills, nevertheless it constructed no large distinction.
Aiden McGeady’s deflected intention on the quarter-hour gave them a very good system in a initially interval they edged however, as has so often been the case this era, they’ve been not capable of create on that and make the sport protected and sound.
As a substitute, there was a distinctive clanger from Jon McLaughlin straight proper after 50 percent-time when he somehow patted Olly Lee’s routine extensive-array completely free-kick down and amongst his legs into the net.
Gillingham ended up the significantly better side within the 2nd fifty % and will merely have absent on to get, however couldn’t get hold of a second function.
Sunderland have a Trophy tie at Scunthorpe United on Tuesday and, with no recreation future weekend, Parkinson may have nearly per week to function together with his squad upfront of they head to Priestfield for the replay.
There would require to be a essential enchancment when these sides meet up with once more, and it must proceed when Sunderland resume their league advertising marketing campaign at home to Coventry in a pair of weeks’ time.