City out of the relegation zone after second consecutive league win at home to Gillingham
Coventry City lifted themselves out of the League One drop zone for the first time this season after picking up a second consecutive league win at home to Gillingham.
Leon Clarke handed City a very early lead only to see it cancelled out by former strike partner Cody McDonald. Franck Moussa popped up with a richly deserved winner for City eight minutes from time to lift out of the bottom four a week after they overturned their pre-season ten-point deduction.
Recent performances meant manager Steven Pressley unsurprisingly opted to field an unchanged side for the clash and City's form in front of goal so far this campaign brought a wave of expectation from fans looking to see an early goal.
They got just that as the game entered only the second minute when a sweeping ball from Franck Moussa picked out Cyrus Christie on the right to curl a low ball into the six-yard box for Clarke to pop up at the back post and tap home past Gills 'keeper Stuart Nelson and give the Sky Blues a dream start.
The visitors very nearly nabbed a scrappy equaliser after just six minutes though when a Charlie Allen corner delivery caused panic in the box and very nearly led to Amine Linganzi poking home the ball from close range only to be denied by a last ditch challenge from Andy Webster.
The equaliser did come four minutes later after a period of sustained pressure and corner deliveries when anoher troublesome ball into the box was turned home by former City striker McDonald.
No sooner had Gillingam levelled though, City had chance to regain the lead, a through ball from Moussa picking out Clarke who slipped a finish past Nelson only to see Gills skipper Adam Barrett stick a toe out to put the ball behind.
With the game 15 minutes old, this time it was Nelson who was required to make a top class one-handed save to deny Callum Wilson after a beautifully weighted ball over the top from Carl Baker picked out the striker to volley a shot which Nelson did incredibly well to keep out, Wilson then firing the follow-up over the bar from a tight angle.
Gillingham went close themselves a minute before the half hour after a fortunate break of play which saw Danny Hollands escape appeals for handball to set Myles Weston free, the wideman pushing forward and then flashing a shot across goal and just wide of the far post.
The Sky Blues were still enjoying the lions share of possession though and looked a threat every time they pushed forward with Moussa heading narrowly over the bar from Baker's corner delivery with ten minutes of the half to go.
The City faithful then could not believe that the Sky Blues did not hit the back of the net on 39 minutes when Jordan Clarke and Cyrus Christie were both denied by goalline clearances within seconds of each other after another corner from Baker.
Jordan Clarke was first denied by a strong save from Nelson and then Christie's diving header was scooped off the line by Barrett as the Sky Blues desperately tried to force the ball over the line with the six-yard box packed with bodies.
The Sky Blues came out for the second half with the same attacking intent and Leon Clarke very nearly doubled his tally for the day when Baker swung a cross in from the right with Clarke meeting it only the volley only to see his effort smack the crossbar.
The two linked up again seconds later when a defence-splitting through ball from Baker picked out Clarke who tried to lift a finish over the advancing Nelson but also lifted it over the bar.
With the second half ten minutes old, the visitors did little to upset the balance of the game which saw the Sky Blues trying to drive through a static formation set up by Gillingham.
Baker managed to register an effort on target on 55 minutes though, latching onto a through ball before firing from 25 yards and forcing a comfortable save out of Nelson.
The skipper went closer on the hour though when he twisted and turned three defenders in the box before firing an effort which was deflected onto the post for a corner.
City fans were left gasping on 64 minutes though when Joe Martin got to the byline and cut a ball back which Jordan Clarke sliced over his own bar in an attempted clearance.
Nelson was called on again for Gillingham on 71 minutes though when Moussa unleashed a long-range drive which the 'keeper tipped over the bar.
Just two minutes later City carved out yet another chance when Conor Thomas burst through the midfield and played a through ball intended for just-introduced sub Mathieu Manset, the ball instead trickling through to Leon Clarke whose first time effort rose over the bar.
The Sky Blues' dominance of the game continued as they remained camped out in the Gillingham half and they came a whisker away from a second when Wilson outbattled Leon Legge and flashed a shot at goal which was cleared off the line with Moussa on the follow up only to be denied by an equally frustrating stop.
The resulting corner delivered the second goal City deserved though on 82 minutes when Blair Adams' deep deliver found Leon Clarke at the back post to head across the area and a stray Gillingham boot popping the ball up in the air with Moussa on hand to bundle the ball home from four yards.
The Sky Blues understandably toned down their skirmishes forward after going ahead, choosing to control the pace of the game as boss Pressley introduced young defender Jordan Willis to help steady things at the back.
It did not stop Leon Clarke going through on goal though, only to be denied by another save from Stuart Nelson.
It was the last notable action of the game though as City saw out the three minutes of added time to pick up another crucial and fully deserved three points.
Attendance: 2,046 (371 away)
Coventry City: Murphy (GK), Adams, Christie, Webster, J. Clarke, Fleck, Thomas, Moussa (Willis 88), Baker (c) (Manset 72), Wilson, L. Clarke.
Subs: Burge (GK), Haynes, Barton, Daniels, Garner.
Gillingham: Nelson (GK), Harriman (Muggleton 88), Martin, Legge, Barrett (c), Allen, Linganzi, Hollands (Akinfenwa 88), Weston, Kedwell, McDonald (Gregory 79)
Subs: Howard (GK), Davies, Dack, Hessenthaler