Defensive lapses cost Leeds
Attendance: 9,649 (2241 Leeds)
Leeds United missed a fantastic chance to cement their place in the second automatic promotion place with a shocking first thirty-three minutes defending performance.
The game was as good as over as first Miller then Bentley and then an own goal from Bromby saw Leeds 3-0 down before the visitors had even got out of the traps.
Leeds had gone into the game on the back of three straight wins that had seen them climb back into second place and with Millwall losing on Friday night it was a fantastic opportunity to stretch the points gap.
Leeds stuck with the same eleven that had played and won so well in midweek at Carlisle with Max Gradel and Luciano Becchio once again leading the Leeds attack.
Unfortunately, Leeds reverted back to the poor defensive and midfield performance that has blighted them since the New Year.
Gillingham took the lead inside ten minutes when a free kick was swung into the box; a poor clearing header by Richard Naylor fell to the unmarked Adam Miller who placed his header wide of Shane Higgs into the Leeds goal.
Leeds should have been level within minutes following a good passing move, which found Gradel in front of goal, but Alan Julian kept out his shot.
Gillingham doubled their lead on the half hour, once again from a set piece. This time Mark Bentley was allowed space by Luciano Becchio to head past Higgs.
Within minutes, it was 3-0 when Hughes allowed former Leeds midfielder too much time to get his ball into the box, once again Naylor had got under the ball and his poor header came off fellow Leeds defender Leigh Bromby and found its way into the back of the net.
Leeds were given a glimmer of hope on the stroke of half time when Becchio turned and shot across the keeper and his shot crept inside the far post.
Leeds came out in the second half looking a bit more determined but were never threatening the Gillingham goal, Gradel had Leeds first chance of the second half but his shot went well wide.
Simon Grayson made a double substitution inside the opening ten minutes of the second half, leading scorer Jermaine Beckford came on to bolster the Leeds front line in place of an off form Snodgrass and Parker replaced Hughes at left back.
Leeds were still only getting shots in from outside the area and both Kilkenny and Parker had shots that never troubled the goal.
Grayson made his final substitution inside the final fifteen minutes when Sanchez Watt replaced the hard working Becchio who had struggled against a big Gillingham defence.
Watt was quickly in the action and offered Leeds more of an attacking threat down the left hand side.
Leeds were given a sniff of a chance in the final few minutes when Beckford was caught inside the area and for the first time in the afternoon Alan Wiley actually gave Leeds a decision when awarding a penalty.
Beckford stepped up and confidently beat Julian with a low shot in the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Leeds were now sniffing the chance of an equaliser and after good work down the left the ball fell to Beckford who failed to get a proper strike in on goal and the ball was cleared to safety.
The fourth official came out and gave Leeds more hope when showing four minutes of added time were to be played.
Unfortunately for Leeds the vast majority of these four minutes were played out at the wrong end of the pitch as Gillingham held onto the ball in and around the corner flag on the left hand side and ran down the clock.
The defeat did Leeds no harm in the table as all the chasing teams failed to capitalise, Millwall lost on Friday, Swindon could only manage a draw and Charlton lost at home to Norwich City who claimed promotion with the three points and look almost certain now to go up as champions.
Congratulations to Norwich and I hope and prey that will be joining you in the Championship in the very near future, but after another frustrating day this is going down to the wire and the last game of the season against Bristol Rovers.
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