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Gillingham's fight against relegation gained renewed impetus with a morale boosting victory over Coventry City.


The sides went in level at the break as Dele Adebola cancelled out Darren Byfield's opener, although Coventry would have been aggrieved as they were twice denied by the woodwork.

Gillingham stunned the Sky Blues in four opening minutes of the second half as they scored twice. The goals came from an unlikely source - take a bow central defender Ian Cox, a player perhaps only in the starting line up due to Chris Hope's injury enforced absence.

In truth Gillingham wasted a hateful of chances to put the result beyond doubt, but it didn't matter too much as three welcome points were picked up.

The first chance arrived in the fourth minute as Steve Staunton's left wing cross was headed wide by Graham Barrett at the back post.

Gillingham responded on 11 minutes when Mamady Sidibe, on the left, pulled the ball back to Paul Smith. He went for goal from 25-yards but curled wide of Luke Steele's right hand post.

The deadlock was broken in the 15th minute. Darren Byfield robbed Neil Wood of possession on the halfway line and raced towards goal. Sidibe pulled defenders about with a run off the ball, but Byfield didn't need him. Instead he pulled the trigger 25-yards out and scored with a touch of fortune as it went through Steele's fingers. Butterfingers sprang to mind!

Still just two minutes later Gary McSheffrey turned in the box and his deflected shot hit the top of the bar.

How Gillingham didn't increase their advantage on 26 minutes only they know. Andrew Crofts, who was outstanding throughout, played a long ball to Sidibe who got the better of Louis Carey before squaring to Byfield in the box. He was completely unmarked 10 yards out and didn't have to break his stride, but his first time strike was somehow kept out by Steele.

On the half hour mark Gills were given a fright as Stephen Hughes saw his ferocious 20-yard strike cannon back off Steve Banks's left hand post.

Three minutes later though Gillingham gave Coventry a fright of their own. Smith's precision pass played in Sidibe in the box. His shot was saved, and although Hills followed up and rounded the keeper his shot was also blocked - this time by defenders.

Coventry were back in it on 37 minutes when Staunton's cross from the left was headed into the roof of the net by Dele Adebola.

Gillingham were back in front on 46 minutes. Nicky Southall's in-swinging left wing corner caused confusion in the box. Byfield and Sidibe were lurking but it was Cox of all people who got the final touch from close range.

His second goal and Gillingham's third on 49 minutes came via an identical combination. This time Southall delivered an in-swinging cross, from the left, and Cox, showing the composure of an accomplished striker, ran into the box to side foot home.

Coventry substitute Stern John then had a couple of chances. His first offering was to shoot wide and he should have done better with the second. He had a free header, from Staunton's left wing cross, but it went wide.

With 20 minutes remaining Adebola got the better of Cox on the right flank and cut into the box. He had a shot from a tight angle but Banks had it covered at his near post.

Four minutes later a long Hills ball put Sidibe completely in the clear and he burst into the box one on one with Steele. Sidibe was denied though and Southall put the rebound wide.

With time running out Hills floated a free kick over the top before McSheffrey and Hughes both fired off target at the end.

Still after this victory it is not the end of Gillingham by any means!
 
Gillingham: Banks; Nosworthy; Hills; Smith; Ashby; Cox; Southall; Crofts; Byfield; Pouton; Sidibe (Henderson 80).
Subs not used - Bossu; Hessenthaler; Roberts; Jarvis.
 
Coventry City: Steele; Carey; Staunton; Williams; Shaw; Barrett (John 45); Wood (Doyle 78); Hughes; McSheffrey; Adebola; Johnson.
Subs not used - Shearer; Giddings; John; Laville; Doyle.
 
Bookings: Ashby; Byfield; Pouton (Gillingham); Williams; Shaw (Coventry)

Attendance: 8,734
Referee: Mr P Joslin