Coventry City 1-0 Gillingham Player Ratings: Dom deputizes diligently

Hyam bags the winner – www.ccfc.co.uk

St Andrews might not feel like home for Coventry City, but any turbulence has certainly not affected the players; Dominic Hyam scored the only goal of the game as the Sky Blues secured a fourth consecutive B9 victory in all competitions, as a disjointed Gillingham side remain winless. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Coventry City

Marko Marosi – the goalkeeper is a good shot-stopper and proved that here when he saved Ndjoli’s 76th-minute free-kick but, possessing a reputation for appearing slightly error-prone at times, the former Donny man’s risky distribution in the opening quarter-hour did lead to one or two openings for Gillingham. 6

Sam McCallum – on paper, a left-back by trade being forced to start at right-back was a disadvantage for Coventry, but it was actually ok due to Gillingham’s lack of width. Being left-footed, McCallum was more inclined to show opponent Alex Jakubiak or Barry Fuller onto their left-foot on the outside, where they struggled to do as much damage. 6
Dominic Hyam – the centre-back deputized superbly for Kyle McFadzean, who missed out with a knock – and hardly did himself any harm by firing home at the back-post in the first half. Hyam timed his headers very well, he defended his penalty area stoutly in the second half and one or two of his cross-field passes belonged at a higher level. Coventry appear to have three very strong centre-backs and when McFadzean returns to contention, he may have to bide his time. 9
Michael Rose – the 23-year-old has settled in nicely since joining from Ayr United this summer and he delivered another positive early-season performance here. Looks accomplished in possession. 7
Brandon Mason – the 21-year-old has progressed this year in terms of his defensive awareness; his first touch and intelligence of passing – including one through ball that set Godden away one-on-one – was very impressive. If Mason can be slightly braver in terms of his movement into the opposing half, he can become a very special left-back. 7

Liam Kelly – the former Leyton Orient man appears to have become a dominant figure in this Coventry midfield over the last seven months; the tenacity, leadership and drive he provided here was especially valuable in a young XI. Dropped between the centre-backs at times to link play and offer insurance for others. 7
Zain Westbrooke – like Kelly, Westbrooke showed a willingness to offer himself in deep areas to link play; he also contributed going forward, seeing a half-volley saved shortly before the goal. Less influential after the break, perhaps and was withdrawn midway through the second half. 6
Jordan Shipley – there appears to be a certain adaptability about Shipley, who has made minimal fuss when shoehorned out wide for parts of his time at Coventry. With Tom Bayliss gone, though, the Irishman appears to have been given that bit more freedom in terms of making forward movements at earlier stages of the build-up play; he did well to find pockets of space between the lines and play through balls, as well as threaten from set pieces. Perhaps a better technician than he has been able to show in the last two years. 8

Wesley Jobello – the wide forward clearly has an athletic element to his game; he was used as an aerial reference point on two or three occasions, including one point from kick-off. And yet, Jobello also provided the odd burst of pace and acceleration, as well as the quality to cross from deep, as he did for Godden’s header wide on four-minutes. After the interval though, the Martinicquan was less influential and was taken off – it may be that he needs to sustain his impact for longer periods within games. 6
Matt Godden – with midfielders and wide forwards who like to break into goalscoring areas, it can be important to have a striker who is willing to graft selflessly in wide areas to create space for teammates to make the runs they want. Godden fit that bill here and ran the left channel well to create space for others, especially Hiwula and essentially complete Coventry’s attacking equilibrium. Tired somewhat in the second half, which is understandable following limited pre-season action due to an eventful summer on a personal level. 7
Jordy Hiwula – the wide forward made some direct runs into the heart of the Gillingham defence, which certainly showcased his speed. Hiwula could do though with acquiring an extra dimension of intelligence to his performances – he needs to learn when he can go it alone and when he needs to use his teammates who may be better placed. The former Huddersfield man is now 23 so while he can be lively and exciting to watch, this is the stage of his career where he has to expand his game if he wants to play regularly in the Championship. 6

Callum O’Hare (on 67) – rare for somebody contracted permanently to Aston Villa to get such a warm reception at St Andrews! O’Hare played some good forward passes and showed a willingness to get involved in the game wherever possible; at 5’9″, the Solihull-born forward has a subtlety of touch that means he could fare even better in a team that is playing on the front-foot, rather than one holding onto a lead. 6
Amadou Bakayoko (on 80) – the former Walsall striker has natural pace and power, but did not have as many opportunities as he might have liked to stretch his legs. Seemed to operate surprisingly deep, when he would have been useful leading the counter-attacks higher up. 5
Charlie Wakefield (on 80) – clearly had the support of fans when he came on, despite prior indiscretions and looked almost desperate to repay their backing. Wakefield ran at his opponent at every opportunity and showed one or two moments of exciting trickery in the finale. 6

Gillingham

Jack Bonham – the goalkeeper clearly has ability, having enjoyed impressive seasons at Carlisle and Bristol Rovers – and he did well to deny Shipley midway through the second half. His positioning for Hyam’s goal was rather questionable – although interestingly, he looked slightly erratic in the early stages of his time at Carlisle and then grew into the campaign, so Gills fans will be hoping he can do similar. 5

Lee Hodson – the former Watford right-back looked very conservative. On the one hand, he defended ok against Hiwula and denied space in behind, yet on the other, he needs to take a few more risks going forward. That does not mean being the most technically accomplished right-back in the world necessarily, but trying to drive forward with the ball, offering a positive option in possession, taking throw-ins quicker would all help enhance the attacking aspects of Gillingham’s game. 4
Max Ehmer – the Gills stalwart clearly has some leadership qualities and given that the defence only shipped one goal, it might be unfair to criticize Ehmer too much. However, when balls came into their penalty area, the team did appear to be short of an aggressive, defensive presence who would head balls away. The 25-year-old has spent the last two years partnering Gabriel Zakuani – who perhaps fits the latter description more naturally – but Zakuani’s reduced game-time means Ehmer now needs to acquire a more dominant dimension to his game. 5
Connor Ogilvie – natives were happy when Steve Evans revealed that he saw Ogilvie as a centre-back, rather than a left-back, which was the position he had played in before the previous campaign. The former Spurs man partially repaid his manager’s faith here with a steady performance, showing good reading of the game and decent ability on the ball – although he’s a different type of defender to Zakuani and, as per above, Gillingham looked short of a aerially dominant centre-back. 6
Barry Fuller – one of the surprises of the 2018-19 campaign was that Barry Fuller, a veteran right-back by trade, won Player of the Year – ahead of Tom Eaves – through playing at left-back. That is testament to the 34-year-old’s professionalism, which was on show once again here; he made an admirably strong challenge on the speedy Jobello just after half-time – and probably felt the effects of it more than the recipient! Fuller unquestionably gave everything – but it may be fair to say that his legs these days are not quite as strong as his heart. 5

Alfie Jones – although Jones might have arrived on loan from Southampton expecting to play at centre-back, Evans did not want to break up the Ehmer and Ogilvie pairing and has thus played the 21-year-old at the base of the midfield. Jones impressed in that role on Tuesday, but here he struggled to get on the ball and dictate play – that may reveal more about the way the team played collectively than the individual. 6
Stuart O’Keefe – out of possession, the Cardiff recruit did not join the press – Mason appeared to be the only player he tried to close down in the first half. That might have been down to instruction, but one could not help feeling that the front-three needed more support from O’Keefe, who looked somewhat static at times. 4
Mark Byrne – similarly to O’Keefe, Byrne was very quiet; he was not supporting the press at all in the first half, yet nor was he dictating play with any real authority – when closed down, he tended to allow his opponents to force his pass the way they wanted it, rather than change the direction of play. The former Newport midfield is capable of performances better than the one he produced here. 4

Brandon Hanlan – the 22-year-old won Gillingham’s Young Player of the Year last season, when he was playing off a target man in Eaves. More often this season, Hanlan has been asked to lead the line on his own in a 4-3-3 – albeit slightly to the right of the attacking trio here. Although he tried his best to win the physical battles with defenders, sprang well at times and actually put in an admirable shift, he is not a natural target man and thus should not have been given an unsuitable remit. 6
Regan Charles-Cook – the former Charlton man was taken off midway through the first half, without so much as an acknowledgement from his manager. Evans was clearly displeased with Charles-Cook’s application and failure to support the press, which is odd for a player who doesn’t appear to be short of athletic qualities. May need to increase his work rate, because while he has some technical ability, it is not sufficiently advanced to counter-balance any lapses off the ball. 3
Alex Jakubiak – at his best, the wide forward loves to cut inside from the left and curl shots with his right foot, as we saw in midweek. Here, he struggled to find the opportunities to do that as the space was always on the outside – and to use the outside effectively, he would have needed to have been proficient on his weaker left foot. 4

Mikael Ndjoli (on 31) – one of the Gillingham players who can come away with some credit. As soon as Ndjoli came on, he brought energy and direct running to the side and was always looking to link-up with Hanlan – forced arguably the only meaningful save of Marosi’s afternoon with his 76th-minute free-kick. Likely to have played his way into Evans’ next starting line-up. 7
Elliott List (on 63) – List did not do badly when he came on – he looked bright and tried to link the play – but the introduction of a number 10 forced a switch from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 with Jakubiak shoehorned even further out wide, which did not necessarily help the equilibrium of Gillingham’s attacks. 5
Mikael Mandron (on 86) – the former Colchester man is arguably the only aerial specialist in this Gillingham squad, so it did not make sense for him to be given just four-minutes of action in normal time. Had Mandron been on the pitch throughout the second half against a tiring Coventry side, he would have given the Gills the focal point they were crying out for all afternoon – and potentially changed the dynamics of the contest. 6