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Half-time substitute Charlie Lee cancelled out Sam Baldock's opener but a 25-yard wonder strike from Simon Gillett on 83 minutes earned the points for City.
Gills made four changes to the side beaten at Oldham last weekend, with Adebayo Akinfenwa, Cody McDonald, Amine Linganzi and Bradley Dack restored to the side as Peter Taylor reverted to 4-4-2.
The first half belonged to Bristol City and their lively attacking trio of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and widemen Baldock and Bobby Reid.
Early on, Emmanuel-Thomas continued his run after a lovely flick to Wade Elliott but finished tamely from the return pass.
He was heavily involved in the build-up again soon after, only to miss the connection from Stephen Pearson’s cut-back.
Gills’ only efforts of note were a blocked shot from Akinfenwa and Dack’s 25-yard strike that was easily saved by Frank Fielding.
The tempo appeared to have settled down before City took the lead following a move up the right on 27 minutes.
Gillett broke and fed Elliott, whose cross was brought down and finished by Baldock.
The second half came to life with Frank Flint heading over a Reid corner for City.
Gills were quickly on the attack with Dack playing in McDonald, whose shot was saved at the near post.
The ball was kept alive with Dack seeing a penalty appeal waved away, when he appeared to be dragged down, and Akinfenwa firing wide from the edge of the box.
Reid fired over the bar on the hour, while Gills sub Myles Weston saw his volley blocked after Dack’s corner was cleared to the edge of the area.
Half-time substitute Lee scored his first goal of the season as Gills levelled on 64 minutes.
Weston’s far-post corner was headed back across goal by Akinfenwa for Lee to sweep home on the half-volley.
Gills looked comfortable until Gillett’s 83rd wonder strike.
The ball dropped to him from Emmanuel-Thomas’ long throw and while the visitors could have done more to close him down, there was no arguing with the quality of the shot.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hewitt, Martin, Linganzi (Lee 46mins), Barrett, Legge, Gregory, Smith (Weston 53mins), Akinfenwa, McDonald, Dack (Piggott 86mins). Subs not used: Baxter, Davies, Fagan, Hessenthaler.
Attendance: 11,422 (512 Gills)
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