SUNDERLAND boss Phil Parkinson has called on his players to show more mental strength at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats drew 1-1 with Gillingham in the first round of the FA Cup, both goals in the game coming through goalkeeping howlers.

And, after being deflated at being pegged back when Olly Lee’s low 46th minute free-kick crept out of the grasp of goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin to put the visitors all square, Parkinson wants to see a more positive outlook.

“Jon is obviously very disappointed with his mistake, an unusual error and he’s hold of the ball and it ends up in the net,’’ reflected Parkinson, installed as Black Cats’ boss last month and with two wins from his six games.

“It does happen, you concede a bizarre goal and it knocks you too much – I’ve been it happen today.

“Now every player had to make more of it and make sure we go on to win the game by everyone doing a bit more.

“Having the ability to sustain performance is key, we have played well for 45 today and we have to play well all game, come through period in games when it’s not going our way. That’s something we have to work on better.’’

This was the first time the Black Cats have failed to win a first round FA Cup tie – albeit they have only played at this stage of the competition three times.

And Parkinson added: “We were decent first-half, switched the ball well and finally got a goal.

“We spoke at half time about them coming out with a more aggressive style of play – we lost headers, challenges straight away.

“You can’t legislate for a mistake like that.

“I see today you have to respond better than we did today when we concede. They made it more of a scrappy game, more physical and we didn’t respond to that.

“I think it’s being stronger as a group and you don’t get it all your own way.’’

Visiting boss Steve Evans admitted: “On the basis of 90 minutes I’m not happy with a draw. Their goal was a deflection, my goalkeeper says that.

“We have to have belief and character here and we could have won the second half more than 1-0.

“It was disappointing at half-time as we worked on a plan all week and didn’t activate it at all in the first-half, so we stripped it back to basics.

“We had chances to win it, but we do battle again in ten days and it will be as tough as it was today.

“It all worked second-half for us, it was the best we have played on the road this season. As a 45 you have to measure quality against quality and player against player and it’s good result for us to take them back – but it’s only good if we win the replay. To a man the players said they were disappointed to draw.’’