PHIL PARKINSON called for his players to show greater desire to deliver three points after watching Sunderland fail to hold on to a lead twice against Gillingham at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats’ hopes of a top two spot were dented when former Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron scored his second of the match deep into stoppage-time to cancel out Kyle Lafferty’s own brace.

Sunderland were set to climb to within a point of second placed Rotherham but in the end slipped back down to fifth following the 2-2 draw.

Lafferty, signed in January after a spell in Norway, had scored either side of Mandron’s first equaliser of the afternoon in the 74th minute to put Parkinson’s side into the lead twice.

His first was a header in the 64th minute and his second was a cool finish form George Dobson’s pass seven minutes before time.

But Mandron hit back twice. His first arrived after Alim Ozturk failed to deal with a long throw and then Jordan Willis was unable to clear so the striker rolled into the far corner.

The Frenchman then drilled a low effort inside the far corner from 20 yards with almost the last kick to seal a point for Gillingham.

Parkinson said: “It hurts. I felt we were comfortable for most of the game. Against Gillingham you have to defend set plays and long throws, and for the majority we did that.

“Two moments proved costly. First, we had to head the ball out from the middle of the goal, the second one we needed greater desire to block the shot and if we do that it is three points.

“You need to win headers in the middle of the goal, show real desire in the last minute or first minute if you want to win games.

“The lads put a lot of effort in, Gillingham play in a very physical kind of way. In the main we handled it OK but it has to be 100 per cent of the time and not 90 per cent of the time.

“It hurts when you concede so late in the day. If it was an amazing bit of skill then you say OK, but today with both situations we could have done a lot better.

“I’m pleased for Kyle. His first goal was a great team goal and the second was a fantastic pass by George and a cool finish. Good for us to get him up and running.”

Lafferty’s first was a header from Denver Hume’s left-wing cross, and his second a low finish after being put through by midfielder George Dobson.

But Gillingham, who were out to frustrate the hosts all afternoon, got their reward by fighting back.

And when Olly Lee laid the ball off for Mandron deep into six minutes of stoppage-time the striker did the rest with a brilliant low finish inside goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin’s bottom right corner.

SUNDERLAND (3-4-2-1): J McLaughlin; Willis, Ozturk (Semenyo 81), Flanagan; O’Nien, Dobson, Power, Hume (Lynch 89); Gooch, Maguire (Scowen 85); Lafferty. Subs: Burge (gk), Watmore, Grigg, C McLaughlin.

GILLINGHAM (4-4-2): Bonham; Fuller, Ehmer, Tucker, Ogilvie; Graham (Lee 58), O’Keefe (Akinde 72), Jones, Roberts (O’Connor 61); Mandron, Hanlan. Subs: Walsh, Willock, Charles-Cook, Pringle.