Coventry City made a victorious homecoming as they edged out Gillingham on their return to the Ricoh Arena.

Striker Frank Nouble's cool 10th-minute strike on his debut won the points for the Sky Blues as they made an emotional return to the city.

But Gillingham came close to spoiling City's first home game at the Ricoh since 20 April 2013.

They went close with three second-half headers before an effort flashed across the face of goal in injury time.

As a result of safety restrictions and a clearly over generous allocation of tickets to Gillingham's 495 away fans, the gate of 27,306 was some way short of the stadium's 32,000-capacity.

But it did not stop the City fans, particularly the vast majority who had not seen a home game in 17 months, making a racket.

Sky Blues return home

It was 503 days since the Sky Blues had last played at the Ricoh Arena - and 517 days since the home fans had celebrated a goal there.

Coventry City had seven players making their 'home' debut in the starting line-up - including first appearances for their two latest signings Frank Nouble and Seb Hines.

The Sky Blues' attendance on their return to the Ricoh was almost 5,000 more than all their 10 home gates for the second half of last season at Sixfields put together.

After an understandably rousing start, Steven Pressley's Sky Blues had already twice gone close and had a penalty shout turned down when they finally elicited an almost deafening roar by taking the lead.

Conor Thomas played a neat ball down the inside-left channel before Ryan Haynes pulled back cleverly to allow the unmarked Nouble to slide home left-footed from 12 yards.

John Fleck was close to a second goal when his header glanced wide just after the restart.

However Gills wasted two even better chances in quick succession when Kortney Hause powered a header wide before centre-half partner John Egan was denied by Ryan Allsop's low, scrambling save.

Coventry City had a crowd of 27,306 at the Ricoh Arena

Coventry's return to the city after 503 days brought a crowd of 27,306 to the Ricoh Arena.

Fleck was then denied by a combination of the bar and visiting keeper Stephen Bywater's outstretched finger tips after a stunning, improvised left-foot half-volleyed chip on the run from 50 yards, just as the ball was about to go out of play on the left touchline.

Yet despite Peter Taylor's men remaining a threat to the end, Egan twice more going close, they could not spoil City's night as the home side hung on to stretch their unbeaten run to six games.

Sky Blues manager Steven Pressley told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

"An outstanding night. A wonderful occasion, which showed the true potential of this club and left me feeling very proud to be the manager. We've given people hope.

"The result was very important. I've seen too many of these scripts where you want to win so much that you can end up with egg on your face, but we'd talked about the importance of that old cliche of playing the game, not the occasion.

"I've got enormous sympathy for the fans. They voted with their feet and ultimately forced the club to return where it belongs. They should feel proud of themselves.

"For all the hard work we've put in and the strain of having to play our home games somewhere else, we could never have moved forward without returning to the city. Now we're back, we have the freedom to build the club again."

Gillingham manager Peter Taylor told BBC Radio Kent:

"I'm really chuffed with the way my lads played. You fear the worst with that atmosphere and the way Coventry were flying at the start.

"They're a very good footballing side. And, if they can keep that sort of atmosphere here for all their home games, teams could really melt.

"But, especially in the second half, I was delighted with how we played.

"If we can carry on creating chances like that, we won't be far away. I still cannot believe we didn't score."

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (6)

Coventry City

  • 23 Allsop
  • 02 Willis
  • 05 Johnson
  • 04 Webster
  • 07 Fleck Booked
  • 24 Clarke Booked
  • 11 O'Brien
  • 06 Thomas Booked (Finch - 89' )
  • 26 Haynes
  • 19 Nouble (McQuoid - 59' )
  • 20 Tudgay (Hines - 89' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Burge
  • 03 Pugh
  • 09 McQuoid
  • 14 Coulibaly
  • 18 Phillips
  • 25 Hines
  • 27 Finch

Gillingham

  • 30 Bywater
  • 04 Egan
  • 05 Hause
  • 20 Davies (Norris - 75' )
  • 03 Martin Booked
  • 15 Morris
  • 08 Hessenthaler
  • 23 Dack
  • 11 McGlashan (German - 85' )
  • 24 Dickenson (Pritchard - 75' )
  • 10 McDonald

Substitutes

  • 02 Fish
  • 12 Morris
  • 14 German
  • 16 Linganzi
  • 18 Pritchard
  • 19 Norris
  • 25 McKain
Ref: Keith Stroud
Att: 27,306

Match Stats

Shots

10 8

On target

4 2

Corners

4 7

Fouls

13 6

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Coventry City 1, Gillingham 0.

90:00 +4:27 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Coventry City 1, Gillingham 0.

90:00 +3:54

Attempt saved. Cody McDonald (Gillingham) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jake Hessenthaler with a cross.

90:00 +3:30

Foul by Ryan Haynes (Coventry City).

90:00 +3:30

Antonio German (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

90:00 +2:05

Corner, Coventry City. Conceded by John Egan.

89:00

Foul by Reda Johnson (Coventry City).

89:00

Luke Norris (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

88:42 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Coventry City. Sebastian Hines replaces Marcus Tudgay.

88:17 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Coventry City. Jack Finch replaces Conor Thomas.

87:29

Attempt missed. Jim O'Brien (Coventry City) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Conor Thomas.

86:31 Booking

Booking Conor Thomas (Coventry City) is shown the yellow card.

86:22

Foul by Conor Thomas (Coventry City).

86:22

Antonio German (Gillingham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

85:18

Attempt missed. Cody McDonald (Gillingham) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Bradley Dack with a through ball.

84:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Gillingham. Antonio German replaces Jermaine McGlashan.

82:46 Booking

Booking John Fleck (Coventry City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

82:38

Foul by John Fleck (Coventry City).

82:38

Joe Martin (Gillingham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

81:07

Attempt saved. Jim O'Brien (Coventry City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Josh McQuoid.

78:47

Attempt missed. Luke Norris (Gillingham) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Aaron Morris.

76:15

Attempt blocked. Luke Norris (Gillingham) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jermaine McGlashan.

75:24

Corner, Coventry City. Conceded by Kortney Hause.

74:50 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Gillingham. Luke Norris replaces Callum Davies.

74:40 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Gillingham. Josh Pritchard replaces Brennan Dickenson.

74:00

Attempt missed. John Egan (Gillingham) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jake Hessenthaler with a cross following a set piece situation.

73:10

Foul by Jordan Clarke (Coventry City).

73:10

Joe Martin (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the left wing.

71:35

Foul by Conor Thomas (Coventry City).

71:35

Bradley Dack (Gillingham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

70:46

Offside, Gillingham. Joe Martin tries a through ball, but Cody McDonald is caught offside.

68:45

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

67:50

Delay in match Andy Webster (Coventry City) because of an injury.

67:22

Andy Webster (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:22

Foul by Cody McDonald (Gillingham).

64:08

Attempt saved. John Fleck (Coventry City) left footed shot from more than 40 yards on the left wing is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Josh McQuoid.

63:22

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by Reda Johnson.

63:08

Foul by John Fleck (Coventry City).

63:08

Aaron Morris (Gillingham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

62:11

John Fleck (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

62:11

Foul by Aaron Morris (Gillingham).

61:40

Hand ball by Conor Thomas (Coventry City).

58:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Coventry City. Josh McQuoid replaces Frank Nouble.

57:11

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by Ryan Allsop.

57:07

Attempt saved. John Egan (Gillingham) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Brennan Dickenson with a cross.

56:36

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by Reda Johnson.

55:42

Foul by Ryan Haynes (Coventry City).

55:42

Jermaine McGlashan (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

54:32

Attempt missed. Kortney Hause (Gillingham) header from very close range is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jake Hessenthaler with a cross following a corner.

54:02

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by John Fleck.

50:02

Offside, Coventry City. Frank Nouble tries a through ball, but Marcus Tudgay is caught offside.

46:45

Attempt missed. John Fleck (Coventry City) header from very close range misses to the right. Assisted by Frank Nouble.

45:00

Second Half begins Coventry City 1, Gillingham 0.

45:00 +2:04 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Coventry City 1, Gillingham 0.

45:00 +0:10

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by Marcus Tudgay.

44:11

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by Ryan Haynes.

41:43

Attempt missed. Ryan Haynes (Coventry City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by John Fleck.

40:54

Corner, Coventry City. Conceded by Kortney Hause.

39:53

Corner, Coventry City. Conceded by Joe Martin.

38:36

Corner, Gillingham. Conceded by Ryan Haynes.

37:18

Foul by Jim O'Brien (Coventry City).

37:18

Bradley Dack (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the left wing.

35:30 Booking

Booking Joe Martin (Gillingham) is shown the yellow card.

35:29 Booking

Booking Jordan Clarke (Coventry City) is shown the yellow card.

34:43

Jordan Clarke (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

34:43

Foul by Joe Martin (Gillingham).

32:35

Hand ball by Cody McDonald (Gillingham).

30:04

Foul by Jordan Clarke (Coventry City).

30:04

Joe Martin (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the left wing.

28:08

Offside, Gillingham. John Egan tries a through ball, but Cody McDonald is caught offside.

27:32

Attempt missed. Jim O'Brien (Coventry City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

26:40

Frank Nouble (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

26:40

Foul by Bradley Dack (Gillingham).

24:29

Offside, Gillingham. Bradley Dack tries a through ball, but Cody McDonald is caught offside.

21:07

Attempt saved. Conor Thomas (Coventry City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Frank Nouble.

18:55

Attempt missed. Marcus Tudgay (Coventry City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ryan Haynes with a headed pass.

17:06

Reda Johnson (Coventry City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

17:06

Foul by Cody McDonald (Gillingham).

14:48

Foul by Conor Thomas (Coventry City).

14:48

Bradley Dack (Gillingham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

13:08

Attempt missed. Bradley Dack (Gillingham) left footed shot from outside the box is too high following a set piece situation.

12:30

Foul by Ryan Haynes (Coventry City).

12:30

Jermaine McGlashan (Gillingham) wins a free kick on the right wing.

9:29 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Coventry City 1, Gillingham 0. Frank Nouble (Coventry City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ryan Haynes.

4:05

Attempt missed. Jim O'Brien (Coventry City) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jordan Clarke.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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