FOOTBALL: MANAGER Russell Slade accepted that they may have done it the hard way but the Sky Blues ended a run of 15 league games without a win thanks to a narrow 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Gillingham.
Strikers George Thomas and Kwame Thomas continued their impressive form by firing the Sky Blues into a 2-0 lead at half-time at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
And despite the visitors pulling a goal back through Max Ehmer ten minutes into the second period to set up a tense finale, Slade’s young side showed no signs of dropping points late on this time to the joy of the new City boss who celebrated his first league win at the final whistle.
“I’m delighted with the three points, but slightly upset we haven’t got six points from the last two games,” said Slade.
“The first-half performance was really strong, scored two and possibly could have had another two. Dominated the first-half so I was really pleased, we set our stall out, and mixed our play up well.
“Second-half we were under pressure, Burge had to come off, he’s suffering with a bit of mild concussion. So many times we haven’t hung in there, but so pleased we managed to do that. We’re Coventry City and we don’t always do things easy.”
Having missed out on all three points at Wimbledon on Tuesday evening the Sky Blues looked intent on making amends and started the brighter of the two teams.
Marcus Tudgay volley over the bar early before opening goal came with 16 minutes on the clock. Callum Reilly’s deep cross to the far post was expertly headed back across goal by Tudgay and Kwame Thomas was there to poke home his second goal in a Sky Blues shirt.
Just four minutes later the home crowd were on their feet again when Andy Rose’s shot from the edge of the area fell into the path of George Thomas who controlled the ball well and showed great composure to beat the keep.
It was almost 3-0 with 23 minutes gone after the impressive Dion Kelly-Evans crossed from the right and Tudgay sent a powerful header towards goal but the ball whistled inches wide of the right-hand post.
It was all Coventry City in the first half as Slade’s side continued to create chances. George Thomas was denied his brace after working his way skillfully into the penalty but Stuart Nelson got down well to keep out his low shot.
Gillingham had offered very little in attack but nine minutes into the second half they were right back in the match when German defender Max Ehmer slid in to stab the ball past Riece Charles-Cook, who replaced the injured Lee Burge at half-time.
With 22 minutes remaining Yakubu was introduced for his eagerly anticipated home debut and the experienced striker almost made an immediate impact when he was released down the right and cut the ball back for the oncoming Reilly who fired high over the bar by the penalty spot.
At the other end Charles-Cook produced an excellent one-handed save to keep out Rory Donnelly’s header at the far post, while Yakubu’s shot on the turn was comfortable for Nelson.
Substitute Jodi Jones almost settled the contest late on when he found himself free inside the area but he left-footed shot was well beaten away by Nelson and despite late Gills pressure the hosts held out for a valuable three points in their fight to beat the drop.
Slade added: “The fans were fantastic again, they stayed with us, it has been testing times for them and pleased we’ve managed three points.
“Reilly worked tirelessly from back to front, he put in a terrific performance and another one who is growing. Kwame is out on his legs, his contribution has been timely and of decent quality as well so really pleased with him.
“George is having a nice run of games, it is great to see him grow in confidence and stature. Not only his energy, but he is contributing so really pleasing.
“It’s not about the eleven, it is about the group. They all have to be ready, we go again on Saturday.”
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