Report | Gillingham 1-1 Coventry

Gills come from behind to seal a point at Priestfield.

Gillingham drew 1-1 against Coventry City at the Medway Priestfield Stadium on Saturday with a brilliant Elliott List equaliser securing a point for the hosts in Sky Bet League One.

After a goalless half, Coventry were ahead within seconds of the interval with Jonson Clarke-Harris powering home a header from close-range. The visitors had enough chances to put the game to bed but they were forced to pay for their profligacy as List smashed home following a mesmerising run to snatch a draw for the Gills.

Gillingham Manager Steve Lovell named an unchanged starting XI to the side that was unlucky in defeat against Sunderland on Wednesday. However, Conor Wilkinson had recovered sufficiently from a minor injury to take his place in the match day squad with Gills youth product Bradley Stevenson missing out.

The game started brightly with Coventry creating the first chance after just three minutes with Thomas latching on to a ball through the defence and squeezing the ball past Tomas Holy but the skipper Gaby Zakuani was on hand to mop up the goal-bound shot and clear.

Gillingham’s first attempt came through Brandon Hanlan three minutes later after neat work from Mark Byrne on the left wing but his shot was dragged wide of the post.

Electric pace from Hanlan then created another opportunity as he burst past his marker to the byline but his pull back was cut out by Burge in the Coventry goal and spilt to Josh Parker, however his shot was blocked.

The visitors were lively on the counter getting at the Gills backline twice in succession but Holy made a simple save before a misplaced pass on the second occasion let the hosts off the hook.

Gillingham did think they had the lead after 13 minutes as Hanlan again breezed past his marker and his fierce shot was only parried by Burge with Tom Eaves tapping in only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.

Thomas was causing the Gills defence problems with his pace and trickery, especially with the game an open affair but Coventry’s final ball was letting them down on occasions with Andreu the latest to shoot but blazed high over the bar.

The Sky Blues had a good opportunity when Thomas again got on the ball on the top of the box and was felled by Bingham with the referee blowing for a foul. Andreu took responsibility with the free-kick 25 yards from goal but his effort was tame and straight into the wall.

Just before the half hour, Coventry had their best opening of the period as Andreu had time and space on the edge of the box and connected with the ball sweetly but the ball curled over the bar.

Gillingham were forced into a substitution just after with Byrne picking up a leg injury and he was replaced by Callum Reilly in the engine room.

The hosts began to find some fluency and were nearly ahead after 37 minutes when Bradley Garmston whipped in a great cross and Hanlan, making a late run in, met the ball but his header looped onto the roof of the net.

Steve Lovell was then forced into a second change with Regan Charles-Cook the latest to pick up a knock and he was replaced by List despite the midfielder’s valiant attempts to carry on.

A Garmston error on the edge of the box gave Coventry an opening but the shot from Andreu was straight down the throat of Holy. Shipley was then played in by a ball over the top and he lobbed it over the frame of Holy but couldn’t get the ball to drop in time.

With the Gills hanging on towards the break they did have one final effort as List drove at the Coventry defence and slipped the ball towards Parker but when he cut back on to his right foot he snatched at the ball giving Burge an easy save.

H/T:  0 – 0

Following a half-time downpour, Coventry got the game underway and were ahead within a minute as a cross in from the left found Clarke-Harris in space and from close range his powerful header beat Holy and hit the net.

Coventry nearly went two up when Parker was dispossessed on half way but Thomas ignored the options either side of him to go for goal and got under his shot putting the ball into the visiting fans.

Gillingham were on the ropes with Thomas again getting in behind the back four and sticking in another great cross but this time Clarke-Harris’ header was off target.

A rare attack from the Gills led by Reilly ended in a free-kick when the midfielder was clipped and Luke O’Neill’s delivery was dangerous but just scrambled away as Zakuani looked to pounce.

Another Coventry attack nearly saw the lead doubled as Andreu span on the edge of the box but his shot on the spin was inches wide of the goal with Holy beaten. Another effort from Hyam as he turned on a loose ball from a corner squirmed wide with the host’s goal leading a charmed life.

The best chance of Gillingham getting back into the game seemed to be a set piece with another dangerous corner met by Zakuani but it was defended well and he couldn’t get enough on his header to find the target.

Just as the Gills started to pin Coventry back they were level through a blinding effort from ELLIOT LIST. He drove at the Coventry defence beating two men and battling past another on the byline before hammering a shot from a seemingly impossible angle into the net to draw Gillingham level on 70 minutes.

List was the danger man for Gillingham as the blue shirts looked to find him on every occasion. A cute one-two with Parker gave him space again in the area but this time his left-footed shot sliced wide of the goal.

The Gills were all over City now and Lovell went for all three points bringing Conor Wilkinson in place of Hanlan to add to the attacking threat.

A driving run from Wilkinson immediately caused panic in the Coventry defence but the Gills were just unable to get a clean shot away as they went for the jugular. List then got at his man again but his shot was tame and straight at the keeper.

The visitors had recovered from their rocky spell and thought they had a shout for a penalty when Andreu went down under pressure from Reilly but the referee rightly pointed for a goal kick. Shipley was then given too much space on the corner of the box but his curled effort missed by some distance.

A driving run from Coventry substitute Allassani caused trouble for the Gills but Max Ehmer just did enough to get a block in before a shot Coventry as Gills cleared the corner was well over. Allassani then had another chance but again leant back as he shot and cleared the bar.

Coventry had a late corner as they searched for a winner but Gillingham defended it well, and that was the final effort in an action-packed game as both sides were forced to settle for a point.

F/T: 1 – 1

Gillingham’s next fixture sees them travel to Yorkshire when they play Barnsley, relegated from the Championship last season, at Oakwell on Saturday.

Gillingham: Holy; O’Neill, Ehmer, Zakuani, Garmston; Byrne (Reilly, 29), Bingham, Charles-Cook (List, 41), Parker; Hanlan (Wilkinson, 72), Eaves

Unused subs: Hadler (GK), Lacey, Fuller, Nasseri

Coventry City: Burge; Grimmer, Hyam, Willis, Mason; Doyle, Bayliss, Andreu, Thomas (Allassani, 81), Shipley (Ponticelli, 87); Clarke-Harris (Bakayoko, 88)

Unused subs: O’Brien (GK), Davies, Hiwula, Brown

Referee: Mr Michael Salisbury

Attendance: 4,880 (692)