Gillingham 1-1 Coventry City
City: Lee Burge (GK), Jack Grimmer, Dom Hyam, Jordan Willis, Brandon Mason, Luke Thomas (Reise Allassani 82), Michael Doyle, Tom Bayliss, Jordan Shipley (Jordan Ponticelli 88), Tony Andreu, Jonson Clarke-Harris (Amadou Bakayoko 89).
Subs: Liam O’Brien (GK), Tom Davies, Jordy Hiwula, Junior Brown
Gillingham: Holy, O’Neil, Ehmer, Zakuani, Garmston, Bingham, Charles-Cook (List 41), Byrne (Reilly 31), Parker, Eaves, Hanlan (Wilkinson 74). Subs: Lacey (GK), Fuller, Nasseri, Hadler
ATT 4,880 (692 City)
Goals Jon Clarke Harris 46, Elliott List 70
The Sky Blues turned back to the future to grab a much-deserved 1-1 draw at Priestfield Stadium.
Jonson Clarke-Harris celebrated his return to the team with the first open-play goal of the season as City started with nine of last season’s promotion-winning team.
Coventry were left to rue a glut of missed chances to prevent them snatching their opening win on the road this term.
Nevertheless, it was easily the best away performance of the season and a huge improvement on the abysmal showing at Blackpool on Tuesday.
From the game’s outset, City were on the front foot with slick passing, largely dictated by Tom Bayliss, at his most influential best in the centre of midfield.
Tony Andreu might have grabbed an early goal after super inter-play between Baylis and Luke Thomas but his effort was cleared off the line after he had flicked around Gills’ goalkeeper Holy.
Thomas, Michael Doyle and Jordan Shipley all had presentable opportunities and City were nearly made to pay when Andy Carroll-lookalike, Tom Eaves, had the ball in the net only to be ruled out offside.
The Sky Blues reacted well and Andreu was unlucky with a powerful strike which flew just over the bar.
It set an unfortunate tone for City’s wayward attempts at goal with only four on target from 26.
On the plus side, the team had much more attacking intent that in recent games with Thomas and Andreu providing considerable threat.
The goal finally came after City’s supporters had literally weathered a half-time storm. Indeed, may were picking up free ponchos, handed out by Gillingham stewards, when Clarke-Harris headed powerfully home from a Brandon Mason cross.
It was a moment which sparked some of the Sky Blues’ best play of the season but somehow they could not unlock the home defence for the second time.
Almost inevitably, Gillingham, who had seemed to have lost their momentum found it in the 70th minute when Elliott List robbed Thomas in his own half and skipped past the recalled Jack Grimmer before lashing past Lee Burge.
This inspired Gillingham into a period of fierce attack but Burge, Jordan Willis and Dominic Hyam were particularly steadfast in defence.
In fact, City nearly grabbed a win when the lively substitute, Reise Allassani, came close twice in a ten-minute cameo.
So, while it could be considered two points dropped, City showed enough promise at the Priestfield Stadium to engender renewed optimism from fans who had been concerned by the lack of chances in recent games.
And the sharp passing and obviously improved team spirit suggested that manager, Mark Robins, might have brought in replacements for last season’s successful team rather prematurely.
Report thanks to Neil White