It's six League 1 games without a victory for Gillingham following a 1-0 defeat by high-flying Preston on Tuesday night.
Hosts Gills had the best of the first half and were unlucky not to lead but in-form North End, with Paul Gallagher running the show, scored the only goal on the hour.
Gills made five changes to the team who pinched a 1-1 draw at Rochdale on Saturday, with goalkeeper Stuart Nelson returning along with Joe Martin, Gavin Hoyte, Danny Kedwell and Jermaine McGlashan in a switch to 4-4-2.
Peter Taylor’s side made a promising start, including neat one-touch move lasting well into double figures that deserved more than a corner.
Moments later Kedwell’s diving header from a Joe Martin cross was brilliantly saved by Jamie Jones.
Dangerman Joe Garner hit the bar with a header from Preston’s first attack before Gills went close again with John Egan’s header form a Jake Hessenthaler corner blocked on the line by Gallagher.
Gillingham switched off at the back when Callum Robinson was left free in the box. He pulled the ball back to Gallagher but Leon Legge threw himself in the way.
It was the start of a decent spell for the visitors but Gills were unlucky not to go in front on 35 minutes with Brennan Dickenson collecting Josh Pritchard’s pass, cutting inside and curing a fine strike on to the bar.
Gallagher made Preston tick and it was his corner early in the second half that saw Neil Kilkenny’s strike blocked by Legge, with David Buchanan sending the loose ball wide.
Nelson tipped over Garner’s header from a Gallagher free-kick then Jack King hit the woodwork from a yard out as Preston dominated.
Preston hit the post again through Robinson before taking the lead on the hour when Chris Humphrey’s cross was headed home by Paul Huntington.
Legge flashed a free header wide from Hessenthaler’s corner as Gills looked for a way back but there was a let-off at the other end when Nelson denied Gallagher with the Scotland international in space.
Kedwell’s final contribution was to set up McDonald with a cushioned header for a first-time strike that was well saved by Jones.
Preston went close to a late second with ex-England striker Kevin Davies feeding Gallagher who crashed an effort against the bar.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hoyte, Martin, Hessenthaler, Egan, Legge, McGlashan (German 77mins), Pritchard (Dack 71mins), Kedwell (Norris 77mins), McDonald, Dickenson. Subs not used: Fish, Hare, Bywater, Staunton.