Burton Albion surrendered all three points at Priestfield Stadium as Cody McDonald's 50th minute header secured victory for the hosts. After a vibrant first half when they were perhaps unlucky not to be ahead they never really looked like equalising in a disappointing second half performance against a home defence that barely deserved to keep a clean sheet.
Both sides rattled the woodwork in the first half and both defences were equally edgy throughout the ninety minutes as mishap after mishap led to numerous chances that were squandered.
Paul Peschisolido opted to make just one change to his starting line-up for the first ever League visit to Gillingham.
Experienced defender Darren Moore returned to action having missed the last two matches through the injury sustained in colliding with the advertising hoardings against Hereford United. His inclusion came at the expense of Tony James who dropped to the bench enabling Ryan Austin, continuing his recovery from a long term injury to continue at the heart of the defence where he performed so well since coming back into the side at Rotherham a fortnight ago.
Gillingham started the game fifth from bottom of League 2 but having beaten current leaders Shrewsbury Town in their last home outing making them very dangerous opponents as the Brewers attempted to move further into the play-off places.
Albion could have been ahead inside the first minute. A clumsy foul by Matt Lawrence on Shaun Harrad gave the Brewers an inviting set piece opportunity 25 yards out and the Brewers leading scorer stepped up to fire a curling shot against the top of the crossbar with Lance Cronin in the Gills goal beaten.
Burton continued to look the livelier side in attack and another chance came their way in the seventh minute. Good build up play down the right enabled Jacques Maghoma to deliver a cross in from the bye line. Although Shaun Harrad was denied a clean strike on goal the ball came out invitingly to Russell Penn who fired in a shot that deflected off Richard Walker and had Cronin at full stretch to keep it out. The former Ebbsfleet keeper also had to hold on well as Harrad latched onto another Maghoma pass to fire in a low shot. from just inside the box.
The GIlls broke free of their defensive shackles just before the quarter hour mark and almost scored with their first real attack of note. Chris Palmer was left in acres of space on the left and his teasing cross flew through the six yard box with Aaron Webster having to do his defensive duty at the back post to clear the danger.
Gills dangerman Adebayo Akinfenwa had been contained well in the opening stages but in the 24th minute he managed to shrug off the attention of Darren Moore to find space for a fifteen yard shot that fortunately ended up being dragged wide of the far post when the striker should have at least hit the target.
Moments later the focus of attention was at the other end as Jimmy Phillips corner was flicked on at the near post by Richard Walker and Albion players were convinved that only the hand of a Gills defender had kept the ball out but neither referee Rob Lewis or his assistant spotted an infringement.
The hosts were close to the opener in the 30th minute as a set piece came back out to Curtis Weston on the edge of the area. The man who scored the winner between the two sides in the FA Cup last season sized up a first time effort and volleyed just wide of the far post with Legzdins a spectator.
After a somewhat scrappy phase of play the Brewers almost got the goal their early endeavours deserved. Maghoma turned defence into attack with a raking ball forward that left Harrad one on one with Palmer. The striker spotted a chance to lob Cronin who was well out of his goal but his lob allowed Cronin to get a hand on it and push it away for a corner. The corner almost paid diviends with a training ground routine finding Harrad on the edge of the box to fire a deflected shot wide.
Gillingham almost snatched the lead in the 44th minute from a rare corner. Chris Palmer swung the ball in and with the marking distinctly lacking in the penalty area, Cody McDonald crashed an eight yard header off the crossbar much to the relief of the Albion defence.
HALF TIME: Gillingham 0-0 Burton Albion
The Gills came out strongly at the start of the second half and took the lead in the 50th minute. Akinfenwa tumbled over Andy Corbett's challenge to give Palmer the chance to launch a free kick into the Albion penalty area. Disappointingly for the Brewers the ball had a long way to travel but the ball still found the head of Cody McDONALD who guided a header beyond Legzdins into the corner of the net.
Danny Spiller was close to adding a second in the 56th minute but his free kick effort was pushed around the post by Legzdins.
Albion made a double change just before the hour mark to try and get back on level terms. Lewis Young replaced the subdued Jimmy Phillips and Greg Pearson was introduced to replace Richard Walker.
Cronin in the Gills goal had a lucky escape in the 61st minute. With Harrad bearing down on him the keeper hared out to clear but got it all wrong and had to rely on Matt Lawrence clearing up behind him to spare his blushes.
Albion's defence also seemed less than assured and had a couple of escapes. Firstly McDonald went to ground under a challenge from Corbett before Albion cleared their lines and then when Legzdins missed his kick on the edge of the area there was more desperate defending to do with the keeper redeeming himself with a smart save to deny the on loam Norwich striker.
Greg Pearson almost capitalised on indecision between Lawrence and Cronin but the keeper got a block in at the vital moment to keep his side ahead.
Pearson almost got in again in the 73rd minute winning a tussle in the box with Gowling to get onto Lewis Young's cross but ending up chesting the ball wide of the post.
The Gills seemed to be more comfortable with their lead as Albion struggled to build up a head of steam to threaten the home goal.
The game continued to flow from end to end and after Cronin claimed well under pressure from Pearson, Darren Moore had to defend well to flcik away a dangerous Danny Spiller cross at the back post.
Jacques Maghoma tried an ambitous overhead effort in the 83rd minute as Aaron Webster's cross was allowed to bounce in the penalty area but his effort bounced wide of the post with Cronin well beaten.
GILLINGHAM: Cronin, Fuller, Weston (Inkango, 73), Bentley, McDonald (S.Payne, 83), Palmer, Lawrence, Gowling, Spiller, Akinfenwa, J.Payne. Substitutes: Julian, Maher, McCammon, Sinclair, Rooney.
ALBION: Legzdins; Corbett, Austin, Moore, Webster; Maghoma, Penn, McGrath, Phillips (Young, 58); Harrad, Walker (Pearson, 59). Substitutes: Poole, Boertien, James, Ellison, Dyer.
Referee: Mr. R.Lewis (Shropshire)
GOALS: GILLINGHAM: McDonald (50)