A late equaliser from John Egan wasn’t enough as the Gills lost to Millwall 2-1 on the final game of the Sky Bet League One season.
Goals from Aiden O’Brien and a last minute penalty from Lee Gregory meant that Millwall took all three points back to the Den, despite Egan’s superb strike.
Justin Edinburgh made two changes from the team that started against Burton on Saturday, with Brennan Dickenson and Doug Loft replacing the injured Bradley Garmston and Aaron Morris.
The Gills came out to an electric atmosphere, with all four corners of the MEMS Priestfield Stadium rocking.
Deji Oshilaja had the Gills’ first two efforts on goal, both from corners. The defender lost his marker on both occasions and met the deliveries, however failed to hit the target.
Joe Martin went close for the visitors with a free-kick in front of the Rainham End, after John Egan was adjudged to have fouled Chris Taylor just outside the the 18-yard box.
The left-back’s deflected effort looked to be creeping into Stuart Nelson’s right hand corner of the goal, but went just wide of the upright.
Minutes later the home side were in trouble as Steve Morison flicked the ball on to Aiden O’Brien, who found himself with only the keeper to beat.
However Gills’ number one, Nelson, was quick off his line and got down low to deny the centre forward. From the resulting corner, however, Nelson was called into action again making a crucial save to keep the score level.
Mark Beevers fired a shot from point-blank range, but the keeper was quick to react, parrying the effort. Martin then picked up a ball and hit the bar with the rebound in what was a worrying spell of pressure from the visitors.
The Gills’ best effort of the half came from the head of Oshilaja, again. Bradley Dack whipped in a menacing free-kick, which was met by the defender but his header was comfortably by Jordan Archer in goal.
The captain, Loft, went close on 45 minutes, driving a free-kick past the wall but just wide of the woodwork.
The Gills looked dangerous from set pieces, and had another effort on target straight from the restart.
Dack’s delivery was met by Egan with a towering header towards goal. Oshilaja wriggled away from his marker and tried flicking the ball backwards into the goal, but it was smothered by Archer on the goal line.
Millwall took the lead on 55 minutes in front of the travelling fans sat in the Brian Moore Stand.
Morison should have scored from 6-yards, but Nelson charged out with yet another top quality save. The ball, however, landed at O’BRIEN’s feet and, with Nelson still grounded, the striker couldn’t miss.
Edinburgh responded by making a triple substitution to go all-out attack, with Jake Hessenthaler, Doug Loft and Dominic Samuel replaced by George Williams, Luke Norris and Ryan Jackson.
The Gills hadn’t had much of the ball in the opposition half since the goal, but created a chance out of nothing.
After clever interplay between Josh Wright and Norris, keeping the ball off the ground with one touch passes, Dack took on a volley from just inside the area but his effort cleared the bar.
Millwall went close to doubling their advantage from a corner on 73 minutes. Morison ran to the front post and attacked Chris Taylor’s cross, but his header crashed off the bar.
Even though the odds were becoming increasingly against them, Edinburgh’s team were not giving up without a fight.
Dack went close with just ten minutes remaining. The Gills’ top scorer played a one-two with Ehmer, who was still up from a corner, but his low effort was comfortably saved.
Things started to get ugly on 86 minutes. Ex-Gills player Mahlon Romeo lunged into a tackle on Dickenson with both feet in the air and was shown a straight red, meaning that the right-back will miss all of Millwall’s play-off matches.
With 90 minutes played the fourth official held up the board indicating that there would be six minutes of added time to be played.
Moments later, the Gills drew level. The ball fell to JOHN EGAN to the right of the goal and the centre-back smashed home the equaliser, off the bar, leaving Archer with no chance.
However, the game took another turn deep into injury time, when Dickenson fouled Gregory in the box. The substitute stepped up to take the spot kick, which he converted passed the Gills’ man of the match, Nelson.
The result sees Edinburgh’s men finish in ninth position in Sky Bet League One.
Gillingham: Nelson, Egan, Ehmer, Loft (Williams, 58), Hessenthaler (Jackson, 58), McDonald, Samuel (Norris, 59), Dack, Dickenson, Wright, Oshilaja
Unused subs: G. Morris, El-Abd, Osadebe, Donnelly,
Millwall: Archer, Martin, Beevers, Webster, Ferguson (Upson, 71), Taylor, Morison (Craig, 89), O’Brien (Gregory, 75), Thompson, Abdou, Romeo
Unused subs: Forde, Edwards, Williams, Onyedinma
Referee: Paul Tierney
Attendance: 9,375 (1,213 away)