Coventry replace Gillingham at the top of Sky Bet League One following victory at the RicohA first half hat-trick from Jacob Murphy ensured Coventry replaced Gillingham at the top of Sky Bet League One with a convincing 4-1 win at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
The scores were level after half an hour but the Sky Blues found the net four times in the space of just 12 minutes, Murphy scoring three times with Ben Turner scoring the other with a fine header.
Bradley Dack reduced the deficit following the interval with a left footed effort following a strong solo run from Ryan Jackson, and although the Gills were better in the second half the damage had been done late in the first.
Manager Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the side that defeated Bury 3-1 with Deji Oshilaja and Cody McDonald replacing the recalled Harry Lennon and Rory Donnelly.
John Egan was given the Captain’s armband with Doug Loft on the bench – he had Jermaine McGlashan, Aaron Morris, Brennan Dickenson, Max Ehmer, Glenn Morris and Donnelly for company.
Among Coventry’s starting XI was Romain Vincelot who enjoyed a short loan spell with the Gills during the 2012/13 championship winning season.
Coventry came out of the traps the livelier of the two teams although goal mouth action was rather scarce at either end, Murphy’s drilled right footed effort after 10 minutes the only notable action in the early stages.
The Sky Blues looked the more likely to break the deadlock and many thought they had seven minutes later when John Fleck’s effort from 25 yards cleared the bar by a matter of inches.
Tony Mowbray’s men remained the better side and should have taken the lead just after the half hour mark, Armstrong found space on the left and delivered a teasing ball across the face of goal.
Murphy was well placed to find the net but somehow missed from a yard. However in the remaining minutes of the half Coventry scored four times to virtually kill the game off.
Gillingham were awarded a corner which was headed off the line, Coventry seized the chance to counter and with Oshilaja unable to get a back pass to Nelson it was Murphy who stormed towards goal, rounded the keeper and tucked a shot away at the near post.
Moments later it was two – a corner from the left was aimed towards Turner, his effort was headed into the ground and Garmston was unable to keep it out as the ball came back across goal.
The scoring continued on 41 minutes when a through ball split the defence, Murphy was quickly onto it and with no defender in sight he sprinted around Nelson before finding the empty net.
And with half time seconds away a fourth was added, a cross from the left found Murphy in space and he simply guided the ball home.
Doug Loft was introduced at the interval in place of Emmanuel Osadebe but Coventry remained the team on top and could have made it five when Armstrong was put through on goal. Nelson came out to narrow the gap and seemingly put the striker off as he missed the target.
Gillingham pulled a goal back on 63 minutes with Jackson beating his marker on the right; he pulled the ball back for Dack who was lurking outside the box.
He let the ball run across him and guided the ball home with an excellent left footed strike.
Gills were much better following the goal and asked a few more questions but City still looked a threat and went close late on when sub Gael Bigirimana forced a fine save from Nelson from a difficult angle.
The last chance of the game fell to on loan Adam Armstrong who drilled an effort beyond the far post.
Coventry: Charles-Cook, Stokes, O’Brien (Haynes 82), Turner (Phillips 56), Ricketts, Martin, Murphy (Bigirimana 63), Kent, Vincelot, Fleck, Armstrong.
Unused subs: Burge, Lameiras, Tudgay, Antoine-Fortune
Gills: Nelson, Jackson, Oshilaja, Egan, Garmston, Wright (A Morris 70), Hessenthaler, Osadebe (Loft 45), Dack, Samuel, McDonald (Dickenson 68)
Unused subs: G Morris, Ehmer, McGlashan, Donnelly
Referee: Mr M Brown