Sky Blues make it the perfect homecoming as debutant Frank Nouble nets the winner on his club debut against the Gills
Coventry City crafted an inspirational return to the Ricoh Arena after producing an impressive display to beat Gillingham 1-0.
Nearly 28,000 Sky Blues supporters welcomed City home as loanee Frank Nouble netted the only goal of the game on his debut after ten minutes to give City all three points and send them up to eighth in the League One table.
City boss Steven Pressley named eight changes to the side that beat Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in midweek, welcoming back a more senior look to the side for the clash with the Gills.
Defensive duo Andy Webster and skipper Reda Johnson returned alonmg with Jim O'Brien and John Fleck in midfield.
Loan striker Frank Nouble also started up front to make his debut for the club on a grand stage alongside Marcis Tudgay.
The tie kicked off in the frantic nature that the occasion expected but it was not until the fifth minute when an opportunity came along and it came for City.
A deep whipped in ball from Ryan Haynes found Jordan Clarke at the back of the Gills area for the wing back to head back across the box. Jim O'Brien was waiting for the ball and attempted a flamboyant overhead kick but pulled his effort across goal and wide.
The opener did come just five minutes later though and it came in flowing fashion. O'Brien again released Haynes down the left but this time the youngster got around his man and cut a ball back to Nouble from the byline for the debutant to fire into the far bottom corner past Stephen Bywater.
City nearly doubled their lead after 22 minutes when Haynes played a sharp ball to the feet of Nouble whose clever flick rolled into the path of Thomas. The midfielder pulled the trigger first time from the edge of the area but Bywater got down low to save well.
The Sky Blues wasted no time after the break in trying to carve out more chances and they went desperately close to grabbing a second two minutes after the restart.
Nouble chased a ball to the byline and pulled it back for John Fleck who glanced a header across the face of goal and just wide.
Gillingham registered their first real effort of the night four minutes before the hour though when a deep corner delivery picked out John Egan whose downward header at the back post was parried away by Allsop.
Bywater was nearly embarrassed though on 65 minutes when John Fleck swung a half volley at goal from the touchline, 45 yards out, and watched the ball dropped under Bywater's crossbar, the 'keeper getting the faintest of touchest to stop the ball crossing the line after having to scramble back to his goalmouth and going full stretch to get a touch.
City went close again five minutes from time when a lovely crossfield ball over the top from Conor Thomas picked out O'Brien who beat the offside trap but could not direct his first time effort on target as he headed towards the back post.
The Sky Blues were then tasked with seeing out four minutes of added time which they did with maturity to sign off a return to the Ricoh Arena with a maximum points haul.
Attendance: 27,306 (495 away)
Coventry City: Allsop, Willis, Webster, Johnson (c), Haynes, Clarke, Fleck, O'Brien, C Thomas (Finch 88), Nouble (McQuoid 58), Tudgay (Hines 88)
Subs: Burge (GK), Pugh, Coulibaly, Phillips
Gillingham: Bywater, Martin, Egan, Hause, Hessenthaler, McDonald (c), McGlashan (German 84), Morris, Davies (Norris 75), Dack, Dickenson (Pritchard 75)
Subs: Morris (GK), Fish, Linganzi, McKain