After a goalless first half it was O’Donnell who struck first from close range to hand the Heed the advantage and ultimately the win at the Autonet Insurance Stadium.
The Heed came into the game with just one change from the second qualifying round win over Ramsbottom United, with Scott Barrow returning at left-back while Jordan Preston dropped to the bench.
Although the visitors dominated possession during the game’s early spells, noteworthy chances proved to be in short supply with the Grove defending in numbers and closing off the spaces in behind.
The first real goalscoring opportunity came the way of Kidsgrove with 19 minutes on the clock when Sam Hall headed mere inches over the crossbar from Rhys Thompson’s corner into the middle.
The hosts grew into the game the more the clock ticked on, but the next chance of the afternoon would fall to Dom Tear – who was perhaps left wondering how he hadn’t broken the deadlock three minutes before the break.
JJ O’Donnell’s cross towards the back post found the Huddersfield loanee in just enough space to aim his downward header goalwards, only for a splendid stop from goalkeeper Kieran Harrison to deny him his second Gateshead goal.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first with both sides not willing to throw too many men forward and risk being caught on the counter-attack.
Williamson found himself at the centre of a contentious decision early on in the half however when Anthony Malbon stole the ball on the edge of the penalty area before going down under pressure from the gaffer, who received a yellow card as a result to the dismay of Grove fans.
Josh Kayode was first to test Harrison’s reflexes in the second period, cutting inside from the left side of the penalty area before curling into the ‘keeper’s hands.
Just after the hour mark however, the deadlock was finally broken and it was the Heed’s top scorer who was at it again.
The ball was cleared only as far as Greg Olley inside the box and his cutback found Kayode, but with the striker unable to get his shot away he found O’Donnell who promptly smashed home from close range for his fifth of the season.
The remainder of the game continued to be a closely fought affair with both sides looking to find the net, with the Grove understandably more anxious to find an equaliser.
Williamson’s men were keen to give nothing away though, and defended in numbers while conceding more possession than usual in an effort to keep the hosts at arm’s length.
James Butler could have grabbed an equaliser at the death when the ball dropped to him on the edge of the box, but his volley was sent wide of the near post to ensure the Heed progressed.
Kidsgrove Athletic XI: Harrison, Hart, Morris, Hall (Savage, 79’), Duffy, Butler, Adu-Gyamfi, Thompson, Wiggins-Thomas (Jennings, 30’), Malbon (c), L. Williamson.
Unused subs: Bergin, Rhodes, Blake, Diskin, Murphy.
Bookings: Butler (75’), Thompson (79’)
Gateshead XI: James; Nicholson, Lees, M. Williamson, Barrow (c); Deverdics, Agnew (Oliver, 75’); Tear, Olley, O’Donnell (Preston, 90+1’); Kayode.
Unused subs: Preston, Guthrie, Forbes, Nelson, Thomson, Blackett.
Goals: O’Donnell (61’)
Bookings: Williamson (52’)
Referee: Michael Barlow
MOTM: Toby Lees