Gillingham out of the FA Cup following a narrow 2-1 loss at the hands of Bristol City at PriestfieldGillingham have been knocked out of the FA Cup following a narrow 2-1 defeat by Bristol City at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Greg Cunningham found the net courtesy of a back post header just before the interval, with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas doubling the advantage with a speculative long range effort on 77 minutes.
The hosts however refused to go down without a fight with the lively Jermaine McGlashan winning a penalty four minutes later, which Danny Kedwell converted in typical fashion.
Gills threw the kitchen sink in the dying moments in the hope of forcing a replay, but the unbeaten Sky Bet League One leaders held out to secure their place in the next round.
Peter Taylor made two changes to the side that lost at Fleetwood – Stephen Bywater was replaced in goal by Stuart Nelson, with Jake Hessenthaler returning in midfield in place of Josh Pritchard.
Gillingham started brightly and had a couple of half chances with Leon Legge and John Egan heading wide from separate deliveries by Michael Doughty.
City however continuously looked threatening on the counter attack, Emmanuel Thomas missing target with a left footed effort before Kieran Agard forced a save from Stuart Nelson following a neat pullback from Scott Wagstaff.
On 40 minutes City took advantage of their possession when Wagstaff delivered yet another teasing ball from the right hand side, Greg Cunningham got a yard clear of his marker Gavin Hoyte and beat Stuart Nelson at his right hand post to register the opening goal with a strong header.
Before the break former Gills youngster Luke Freeman tried his luck with a right foot effort 25 yards from goal but Stuart Nelson was alert and palmed it clear.
Peter Taylor introduced Jermaine McGlashan at half time in place of Leon Legge, meaning Gillingham reverted to a 4-4-2 formation instead of the 3-5-2 system adopted in the first half.
Gills again started well but the Robins could easily have been two goals ahead 10 minutes after the re-start. Freeman delivered a low cross from the right wing; it evaded everyone apart from Cunningham at the back post.
The midfielder wasn’t expecting the time he had on the ball and as a result blazed an effort over from little over three yards.
On the hour mark Cody McDonald failed to trouble Fielding with a shot inside the area, and at that stage it seemed the game could go either way with both teams going in search of a crucial goal.
Bristol City got just that on 77 minutes after a fantastic individual effort from Jay Emmanuel Thomas. The former Arsenal man found space 25 yards from goal and decided to try his luck with a low curling effort towards the far post.
The power and accuracy of the shot was too much for Nelson who could do little to prevent a second goal.
However the visiting supporters had just about stopped celebrating when the deficit was halved. McGlashan, on for Leon Legge at half time, drove inside the penalty area and the ball appeared to strike a hand before the advantage was lost.
The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and Danny Kedwell made no mistake from 12 yards to raise the roof at Priestfield as the home faithful sensed a chance of glory.
However, despite throwing everything at Bristol City in the closing stages, the Robins closed the game out and did enough to ensure their name was in the hat for round two.
Gills: Nelson, Legge (McGlashan HT), Hause, Egan, Hoyte (Dickenson 75), Martin, Loft, Hessenthaler, Doughty, Kedwell, McDonald (German 67).
Unused subs: G Morris, Fish, Dack, Pritchard
Bristol City: Fielding, Flint, El-Abd, Elliott, Emmanuel-Thomas (Wilbraham 87), Wagstaff (Burns 74), Freeman, Cunningham, Agard (Bryan 90), Pack, Ayling.
Unused subs: Williams, Osbourne, Smith, Richards.
Referee: Mr P Miller
Attendance: 2654 (254 Bristol City)