Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Bristol City see off Gillingham over two legs to reach final
Last Updated: 30/01/15 6:26am
Matt Smith was on the scoresheet once again as Bristol City reached the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final with a 5-3 aggregate win over Gillingham after the sides drew 1-1 at Ashton Gate in the second leg of their semi-final.
Fulham loanee Smith, who scored all four goals in their 4-2 Southern Area final first-leg victory, cannot even play in March's showpiece event but he settled their progress with a first-half header, his seventh goal in three meetings with the Gills this season.
The lively Jermaine McGlashan had the 169 travelling fans believing as he finished off a swift passing move but a string of smart saves from Frank Fielding killed off any hopes of a memorable comeback.
Gillingham came into this clash knowing they needed to sentence City to just their fourth home defeat of the season to have a chance of progress but fell behind when giant forward Smith broke the deadlock with 18 minutes on the clock after Aden Flint rattled the crossbar.
But that lead was cancelled out in the 32nd minute when Cody McDonald back-heeled the ball to Bradley Dack and his inch-perfect throughball was slid home by McGlashan.
Buoyed by their leveller Gillingham continued to press on and only a stunning save from Fielding in his left-hand corner denied Doug Loft's side-footed effort from distance.
Luke Freeman was lucky to finish the half on the pitch for a late tackle on McGlashan which referee Scott Graham deemed as just a yellow for the City playmaker.
The Gills picked up where they left off after the break and only another fine parry from Fielding kept out McGlashan's curling effort.
But then City regained control and carved out two fantastic chances within 10 minutes. First Smith's looping header dropped an inch past the far post before James Tavernier's curling cross was nodded across goal by the unlikely figure of Greg Cunningham at the far post.
And then only a lick of paint kept out Jay Emmanuel-Thomas' thumping right-footed drive that thumped off the near post with Nelson beaten in the 77th minutes as City celebrated a trip to Wembley.