Published: 21:30, 19 February 2014
Gillingham’s inconsistent League 1 form continued with a 1-0 defeat at Priestfield.
Relegation-threatened Sheffield United claimed maximum points thanks to Conor Coady’s strike late in the first half.
The Gills felt hard done by after a promising first 45 minutes but offered little threat in the second half.
Defeat left Gillingham’s recent form at a consistently inconsistent win, lose, win, lose, win, lose, win, lose.
Ryan Inniss was put straight into Gillingham’s starting XI for the match against a Sheffield United team who had impressed in the FA Cup but floundered in the league.
United started the evening in the bottom three, nine points adrift of Peter Taylor’s Gillingham and with just one league win on their travels.
Taylor’s men had a couple of good early efforts, with Connor Smith’s low shot being claimed by keeper Mark Howard and Inniss firing one just wide of the mark.
The Gills also had a couple of penalty shouts, both ignored by referee Brendan Malone. One was for handball and one for a shove but neither prompted the official to act.
Malone had also refused to blow his whistle when visiting defender Neill Collins wrestled McDonald to the ground. It was he who the Gills fans directed their boos at when the half-time whistle sounded.
The Gills were trooping off at the break a goal down. Midfielder Coady rifled the ball home, moments after Chris Porter has put an effort against the post, as the Gills failed the get the ball clear.
The home defence had been left in disarray with Inniss down injured and the Crystal Palace loanee was immediately replaced by Leon Legge.
Just before the break Akinfenwa’s header went narrowly over.
Substitute Legge made some important early interceptions in the second half but United nearly doubled the lead from a corner. Harry Maguire had time and space to volley an effort at goal, which was blocked.
Billy Paynter also came close for the visitors and his powerful effort was blocked on the line by Bradley Dack.
Chances in the second half for Gillingham were rare. Amine Linganzi looped an effort over the bar, and even with the introduction of both Chris Whelpdale and Myles Weston, the hosts struggled to make an impact.
Legge glanced an effort at goal, from a long Stuart Nelson clearance and with two minutes left hit a low shot just wide from Dack’s corner ball.
Gillingham: Nelson, Harriman, Martin, Inniss (Legge 41mins), Barrett, Smith (Whelpdale 64mins), Gregory, Dack, Linganzi (Weston 73mins), Akinfenwa, McDonald. Subs not used: Baxter, Hessentaler, Fagan, Piggot.
Sheffield United: Howard, Maguire, Hill, Flynn (Davies 73mins), Doyle, McGinn, Collins, Coady, Paynter (Murphy 69mins), Harris, Porter (Baxter 79mins). Subs not used: Miller, Scougall, Long, Kennedy.