Published: 15:45, 04 September 2016
Gillingham conceded a late penalty to lose Sunday’s televised game against Sheffield United.
Bradley Dack put the Gills ahead with a curling free-kick but conceded twice in the second half.
Sheffield United deservedly levelled through Kieron Freeman and won it with a stoppage-time penalty, scored by Billy Sharp, after Josh Pask had handled in the area.
Gillingham reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation for the visit of the Blades and recalled Dack to the starting XI.
Ryan Jackson was also back in the line-up, starting at right-back, following a groin injury.
The Gills knew second place was up for grabs in the final League 1 fixture of the weekend, playing live in front of the Sky Sports cameras for the first time in 18 months.
But defeat left the Gills sitting eighth in the table.
Justin Edinburgh’s side kicked off their 2015/16 season with a 4-0 win over the Blades, but just three of the players that started that game lined up for Sunday’s match.
Pre-season promotion favourites United boasted just one win in all competitions ahead of their trip to Kent.
The Gills should have gone ahead as early as the eighth minute when Paul Konchesky put Cody McDonald in the clear, but the Gills striker was unable to beat keeper Simon Moore.
Keeper Jonathan Bond had to make several routine saves to deny the Blades, while Deji Oshilaja and Max Ehmer both made crucial blocks.
It was Dack who put Gillingham ahead, with his first league goal of the season. He had hit the post with a free-kick in the last live TV game he played in but this time the effort was inch-perfect. He curled home the ball past Moore in the 34th minute.
The Gills certainly hadn’t had it all their own way and Edinburgh switched back to a wing-back system in the second half. Despite the change the visitors remained a big threat.
Sharp got the better of Jackson to create an early second-half opening for the Blades but his shot was saved well by Bond. The striker had an even better chance moments later, finding himself unmarked, but headed wide from a cross.
Gillingham came close with a shot from distance by Mark Byrne but keeper Moore palmed the curling effort away.
United levelled after 64 minutes when the Gills failed to clear a cross into the box and Freeman was on hand amid the confusion to slide the ball home from close-range.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas tried his luck with a free-kick and a shot within minutes of each other but both were comfortably collected by the keeper. Thomas was soon withdrawn for Rory Donnelly, while Dack made way for Jamie O’Hara.
The Gills were living dangerously towards the end of the game, losing possession too easily and making it a nervy finish.
In the end United won it in the first minute of injury time. Pask handled a cross into the box and Sharp dispatched the resulting spot-kick.
Gillingham: Bond, Jackson, Konchesky, Ehmer, Oshilaja, Wright, Knott (Pask 46mins), Byrne, Dack (O’Hara 77mins), McDonald, Emmanuel-Thomas (Donnelly 77mins). Subs not used: Nelson, Osadebe, Oldaker, List.
Sheffield United: Moore, O’Connell, Basham, Sharp, Done (Clarke 68mins), Wright, Coutts, Freeman, Wilson (Ebanks-Landell 61mins), Duffy (Scougall 87mins), Lafferty. Subs not used: Long, Hussey, Fleck.