Eaves leaves it late to clinch a draw at Coventry.
A late penalty from Gills’ top scorer Tom Eaves earned the Gills a point on the road at Coventry City in a 1-1 draw at the Ricoh on Saturday afternoon.
Coventry had taken the lead in a tight encounter in Warwickshire when Bright Enobakhare powered home a rebound. However, a battling second half performance got its just rewards as Eaves stepped up to slot past Lee Burge and give Steve Lovell’s men a deserved point.
Gillingham welcomed new signing Graham Burke in to the starting line up as Darren Oldaker dropped to the bench. New signings Billy King, Leonardo Da Silva Lopes and Tahvon Campbell all had to settle for a place on the bench too, as the Gills went in search of a second away win at Coventry in 21 attempts.
Gills lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Burke, Elliott List and Brandon Hanlan playing off Tom Eaves and the new signing, Burke, was seeing a lot of the ball in the opening stages; the forward shooting wide after just eight minutes.
In the 13th minute a corner from the Coventry left hand side found its way to Jordan Willis at the back post but the defender was unable to steer goalward. Minutes later a surging run across the edge of the Gills box from Luke Thomas was only halted by a last-ditch Max Ehmer tackle, with the attacker looking destined to shoot.
In the 28th minute Gills had two good chances to take the lead. Firstly, a Josh Rees ball to the back-post found its way to Eaves, but the top scorer saw his low header well saved by Burge before some neat play from Burke and List saw the latter cross to Hanlan, but his low effort fell agonisingly past the post. Gills unfortunate not to be ahead.
In what was turning in to quiet an open game at the Ricoh, Dujon Sterling was the next man to come close. A break down the Sky Blues left saw the wing-back set free and he produced a firm shot, but Tomas Holy matched him, getting down well to his right-hand side to palm the ball away.
Gills came back though, the lively Burke again involved, he dispossessed the Coventry back-line and drove at the defence, unfortunately for Gills, his shot flew inches over the bar as it remained 0-0 in Warwickshire.
In the last action of the half, Hanlan drove at the Sky Blues backline, but again shot over as Gills went in to the break level.
Neither side mad a change at the break as the Gills attacked the stand with the 500+ fans.
The first spell of pressure of the second half went to Coventry. Zain Westbrooke shot narrowly wide from 30 yards before a trademark Gabriel Zakuani block denied Sterling inside the six-yard box.
Gills were still a threat on the break and on a couple of occasions Hanlan was set free inside the Coventry half, but the forward was unable to pick out a Gills shirt.
Amadou Bakayoko was introduced in to the action in the 59th minute and nearly made an immediate impact, the forward was found inside the box but was denied by another Zakuani block. The resulting corner was cleared without fuss.
In the 67th minute Coventry City took the lead. Bright Enobakhare disposed the Gills inside the Coventry half, drove at the backline before laying the ball off to Bakayoko. The forward saw his effort saved by Holy but Enobakhare was there to power home, despite the attempts of Zakuani and Ogilvie on the line.
Coventry had an opportunity to seal the game in the 82nd minute. Another break on Gills, who were committing bodies forward by then, saw the ball drop to Bakayoko but his finish rolled just past the post.
Coventry were to rue that missed chance as in the 88th minute Hanlan pounced on a weak back pass and was bought down by goalkeeper Burge. After a period of awful suspense as Burge received treatment, Eaves stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to send the Gills fans crazy.
Both Coventry and Gills had spells of pressure after the leveller but neither side could find a winner as the Gills, featuring some new faces, picked up a valuable point on the road.
Coventry City: Burge, Willis, Meyler (Bakayoko 59), Sterling, Hyam, Davies, Westbrooke (Bayliss 67), Thomas, Enobakhare (Wakefield 90) , Hiwula, Shipley
Unused subs: Grimmer, Addai, Davies, Chaplin,
Gillingham: Holy, Fuller, Zakuani, Ehmer, Ogilvie (King 88) Byrne, Rees, List (Lopes 71), Hanlan, Burke, Eaves.
Unused subs: Hadler, Oldaker, O’Neill, Campbell, Charles-Cook.
Referee: Kevin Johnson