Charlie Lee equalises but Gillingham go down fighting at Ashton Gate
Gillingham can count themselves very unlucky not to take more from Ashton Gate as Simon Gillett's wonder goal cancels out Charlie Lee's equaliser at Bristol City
Peter Taylor made four changes to the side that were unlucky to lose 0-1 at Oldham Athletic last time out. Striker Cody McDonald and Bayo Akinfenwa returned to lead the attack, while Bradley Dack and Amine Linganzi were restored to the midfield, in place of Hessenthaler and Whelpdale.
The Gills lined-up in an attacking 4-4-2 formation and had the home defence on the back foot in the opening moments. Connor Smith and McDonald linked-up down the right side, the latter’s cross evaded Akinfenwa and Lingnazi’s follow-up shot cannoned back off the heels of McDonald.
In reply City saw a Simon Gillett shot from distance clear Stuart Nelson’s cross bar and Wade Elliott pulled an inviting ball back for Bobby Reid to shoot but the Bristol wingers finish failed to test the Gills custodian.
On 10 minutes a quick counter attack by the home side caused problems for the Gills as Elliott sent Jay Emmanuel-Thomas through on the right of goal, the Robin’s leading scorer scuffed his effort, sending a low drive scudding goalwards, Nelson reacting smartly to gather at the feet of the onrushing Elliott.
The hosts were enjoying the balance of play by now and went close again soon after, Stephen Pearson hitting a cross/come shot from the left, across the face of goal, fortunately Emmanuel Thomas couldn’t convert.
A Nelson free-kick sparked the next Gills attack in the 24th minute. McDonald controlled his long ball forward before laying off to Smith, who took his time before picking out Bradley Dack’s run to the far post, the youngster hooking his finish narrowly wide and into the side-netting.
Three minutes later Bristol City took the lead in ruthless fashion as Wade Elliott lifted a sublime ball over the top of Hewitt and into the path Sam Baldock. The Robins’ skipper took a touch before smashing the opener into Nelson’s far right corner for 1-0.
Both sides continued to probe for further goals without much success, the only action of major note being Bradley Dack collecting the game’s first booking for a foul on Elliott in the 41st minute.
Peter Taylor made his first change of the afternoon at the break, Charlie Lee coming on to replace Linganzi in midfield but it was the hosts that came close to scoring first, Aden Flint heading onto the roof of the net from Reid’s corner.
Moments later at the other end, McDonald had a shot saved from a narrow angle after good work from Dack, the ball was returned into the box by Smith, referee Sutton turning down claims for a penalty as Dack appeared to be impeded at the far post, and Akinfenwa blasted the loose ball across goal and agonisingly wide of keeper Fielding’s back stick.
Ten minutes into the half, Gillingham made their second change, Myles Weston replacing Smith on the right of midfield to increase the attacking threat but it was the home side that enjoyed the better openings once again, with Bobby Reid blazing over at the near post from Baldock’s through ball.
On 63 minutes Weston’s drilled shot from a Dack corner was blocked in the area and from the resulting corner Gillingham equalised. Weston delivered a deep corner that was hooked back at the far post by Akinfenwa for Charlie Lee to smash home for 1-1.
The goal saw the visitors grow in confidence and it looked as if Gills would push on and take all three points until an 83rd minute wonder strike from Simon Gillett put Bristol back in front. The midfielder collected a clearance 20 yards out from goal and rifled a stunning effort into the roof of the net to give the Robins hope.
Joe Pigott came on for the final four minutes of normal time, replacing Bradley Dack as Gills moved to three up front. City's defending became increasingly erratic as the Gills dominated throughout four minutes of time added-on but the Robins held out to claim all three points.
Attendance: 11,422 (Gillingham 512)
Gillingham: Stuart Nelson, Joe Martin, Leon Legge, Adam Barrett, Elliott Hewitt, Bradley Dack (Joe Piggott 86), Steven Gregory, Amine Linganzi (Charlie Lee H/T), Connor Smith (Myles Weston 55), Bayo Akinfenwa, Cody McDonald
Subs not used: Sam Baxter, Callum Davies, Craig Fagan, Jake Hessenthaler
Bristol City: Frank Fielding, Brendan Moloney, Derrick Williams, Aden Flint, Wade Elliott (Karleigh Osborne 87), Sam Baldock, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Bobby Reid (Marlon Pack 69), Adam El-Abd, Stephen Pearson (Wes Burns 69), Simon Gillett
Subs not used: Dave Richards, Joe Bryan, Greg Cunningham, Tyrone Barnett
referee: Gary Sutton
Assistants: Mark Derrien & Adam Hopkins
4th Official: Lee Swabey