Gillingham produced yet another comeback victory against Coventry City at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday, moving up to eighth in the Sky Bet League One table.
Kyel Reid gave Coventry the lead with a brilliant left-footed shot, but Max Ehmer brought the Gills level before half time, heading home from Ryan Jackson’s long throw. Billy Knott scored his first Gillingham goal in the second-half, slotting home from Cody McDonald’s perfect pass to give Gillingham victory, which Stuart Nelson secured with a brilliant save in added time.
Justin Edinburgh switched things up after the heavy defeat to Spurs with Rory Donnelly, Knott, Scott Wagstaff and Nelson all starting for the Gills, as they returned to the diamond formation.
Gillingham looked lively early on and Knott had the first effort of the game within the first minute, but his effort with the outside of the boot was saved by Reice Charles-Cook low down in the Coventry goal.
The visitors, however, nearly took the lead after five minutes as a defensive tackle inadvertently played Marvin Sordell through, but Nelson was out quickly to block both ball and man, taking a whack in the process.
McDonald was next to go close for Gillingham in what was a lively first ten minutes. Donnelly did well to win a high ball with the knock down falling to the Gills striker, however the volley was wide of the right post. With 12 minutes gone a Bradley Dack corner found Deji Oshilaja free in the box but the defender, reaching for the ball, was just unable to get enough contact on the delivery.
After Coventry’s first shot of the target that provided a simple save for Nelson, Gillingham nearly took the lead. First, Donnelly held the ball up well down the right hand side of the box but his cut back just evaded the onrushing McDonald and Knott. From the resulting long throw McDonald got up well to head toward the goal, but Charles-Cook did well to make the stop.
Coventry took the lead after 20 minutes with a brilliant left-foot shot from Kyel Reid. The wide-man found space in front of the defence before finding the corner with a powerful shot.
Gillingham responded immediately with Knott firing a low shot from 25 yards that had the power to trouble Charles-Cook, but was straight at the keeper, before Dack claimed a penalty that was turned down by the referee after a coming together on the byline.
Gillingham equalised after 25 minutes through the head of Ehmer. Jackson delivered another long-throw which the Gills centre back met with perfection to find the corner of the net and level the score.
The Gills were looking the more likely side to take the lead going into the break. Knott just failed to make contact from a great Donnelly cross with the ball falling to Jackson after Wagstaff air-kicked; the right-back unleashed a low left-footed drive which was nearly diverted into the Coventry net by an away defender, after 37 minutes.
Soon after, Sordell wriggled free of the Gillingham defence to power a drive forcing Nelson to tip over for a corner.
Both sides continued to look threatening on the attack, with neither managing to create any further clear-cut chances before the end of the half although Dack did blaze over from 30 yards in the last of the first-half action.
H/T: 1 – 1
Mark Byrne replaced Josh Wright over the interval with Nelson taking the captain’s armband for the Gills.
Gillingham were out the traps the quicker of the two teams and Wagstaff had the first attempt at goal, heading well over from a powerful free-kick whipped in by Dack. Wagstaff next tried his luck from 30-yards after 49 minutes but dragged his shot wide.
It was more of a cagey encounter in the second half as both sides failed to find the fluidity that had made the first period such an engrossing encounter.
McDonald had a great chance to give Gillingham the lead with 57 minutes gone. Dack played a great one-two with second half substitute Emmanuel Osadebe, before playing McDonald in down the left. The striker took a touch before driving past the ‘keeper but wide of the left-hand post.
At the other end Nelson had to be alert to keep Coventry at bay, palming away a stinging, swerving drive before a low cross from Lewis Page beat all the onrushing City attackers.
Gillingham took the lead after 71 minutes courtesy of Knott’s first Gillingham goal. McDonald did brilliantly to hassle the defender, nicking the ball and feeding Knott who had acres of space to pick his spot and beat the ‘keeper.
Nelson did well to tip a powerful 79th minute Reid drive over the bar as the visitors started to attack the Gills with gusto.
Coventry were in the ascendancy as they looked for a way back into the game but Gillingham were defending resolutely and looking dangerous on the counter.
Substitute Ben Stevenson went close for Coventry as the game neared added time, but his low drive from 25-yards whistled wide of Nelson’s post.
The Gills’ number one made a brilliant save in the second minute of added time to deny a certain goal from Sordell who shot low and powerfully but the Gills keeper got a glove on it to divert the ball around the post. Gills hung on in added time with Nelson’s save proving to be the decisive action in the game.
F/T: 2 – 1
The Gills travel to Chesterfield on Tuesday, looking to put together successive victories and move up the table.
Gillingham: Nelson; Jackson (Osadebe, 54), Ehmer, Oshilaja, Konchesky; Wright (Byrne, 46), Wagstaff, Dack, Knott; McDonald, Donnelly (Emmanuel-Thomas, 69)
Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Pask, Oldaker, List
Coventry City: Charles-Cook; Willis, Turnbull, Ricketts, Kelly-Evans (Jonesm 46); Bigirama, Gadzhev (Agyei, 73), Page, Reid; Sordell, Wright (Stevenson, 70)
Unused Subs: Addai (GK), Lameiras, Tudgay, Harries
Attendance: 7,664 (380)
Referee: Brett Huxtable