TOWN simply have to improve away from home.
To stand a chance of winning automatic promotion or the play-offs, Peter Jackson's side are going to have to be more solid.
At the Galpharm, they have an impeccable unbeaten record in 2006 which has enabled them to stay within a point of the top two with five games to play.
On their travels, however, too many defensive errors are proving costly - not exclusively the fault of the back four - and Town have collected just nine points from 36 since November with the help of only one win.
While there is clamour in some quarters for Town to play 3-5-2 away from home, two disciplined banks of four are just as effective - as Gillingham illustrated when they came to the Galpharm in January to grind out a 0-0 draw.
Town need a similar mean streak when they go to Bournemouth on Saturday and round-off their road trips against Walsall and Swindon - otherwise pipping Brentford and holding off the rest is going to be a long-shot at best.
Jackson - whose side are excellent on the counter and rarely fail to score - highlighted the need for solidity before Saturday's trip to the Priestfield Stadium, but Town were behind inside just four minutes.
Wingman Matthew Jarvis - who later settled the issue with a spectacular last-minute strike - was the creator, but he got to much time out wide and his cross should have been booted to safety by the covering Nathan Clarke.
Instead, the normally footsure Clarke mistimed his effort under pressure and the ball fell kindly for Gary Mulligan to pounce from close range.
It meant the first job for keeper Paul Rachubka, who received a late call when Phil Senior injured his back in the warm-up, was to pick the ball out of the net and it immediately gave Town a mountain to climb.
Typically of a side whose battling quality is without question, they hit back to have the bulk of possession and create the better chances - but they couldn't find a finish.
Danny Schofield squandered two corking chances, David Graham was denied by a scrambling save and both David Mirfin and Andy Booth were off target at the back post.
Add to those shots by skipper Jon Worthington and Mark Hudson - plus what seemed a penalty as Schofield rounded goalkeeper Jason Brown on 26 minutes - and it indicates Gillingham were far from confident leaders.
In fairness, however, they started the second-half in powerful style and would have increased their lead but for excellent saves by Rachubka from Tommy Black and Mulligan.
Maybe their confidence received a boost because Booth did not re-appear for the second half and, if his hamstring injury proves to be serious, it will put a massive dent in Town's hopes for the run-in.
Booth's absence marked the return of Pawel Abbott to senior action for the first time in over a month and he didn't waste much time in creating Town's best second-half chance for Graham.
It came on 54 minutes and was pivotal in the match.
Abbott's twisting and turning was followed by an excellent cross from the right and Graham's header seemed destined to equalise until Brown, reacting brilliantly, somehow blocked with his right palm.
At that point, you got the feeling it wasn't going to be Town's day - despite excellent backing from around 500 travelling fans.
There was plenty of effort and, in fact, Town's desire to push forward left them exposed to some swift counter-attacks, but when the alarm bells rang there always seemed to be Mirfin to the rescue.
He had a tremendous match in difficult, windy conditions, but there was nothing even he could do to stop Jarvis cracking home Gillingham's second on the stroke of time when cutting in from the left.
At least the cloud of defeat had a silver lining with results elsewhere going in Town's favour, but a bigger, darker clouds are threatening if Booth's injury rules him out for a significant amount of time.
Next page: Man of the Match >>>
Man of the Match: David Mirfin
He always seemed to be there when Town were in trouble and his defending was top quality. Also showed his worth winning set-pieces at the other end when Booth was off
How they rated:
Paul Rachubka First start in 12 matches for injured Phil Senior. Super saves from Black and Mulligan but badly let down by his kicking Rating: 5/10
Andy Holdsworth More prominent in the first half when he was pushing forward well. Got in a smart late clearance to deny Black break Rating: 5/10
Danny Adams Some typically robust challenges but few chances to get forward. One cross for Fletcher, almost produced a goal Rating: 5/10
David Mirfin Comfortably Town's top man with a polished display in difficult conditions. Outstanding cover play and tackling Rating: 8/10
Nathan Clarke His mis-timed clearance presented Mulligan with Gillingham's opener and it was not one of his better days overall Rating: 4/10
Danny Schofield Played well first half but he faded out of it in the second after being booked for diving when rounding the keeper Rating: 5/10
Jon Worthington Fired a couple of efforts over on a frustrating day but battled to superbly mop up the danger from a Black break on 58 Rating: 5/10
Mark Hudson Very involved first half with strong challenges and attacking runs, but his best chance was blocked by Crofts Rating: 5/10
Gary T-Fletcher Looked a major threat first half playing wide right. Maybe should have defended more tightly before first goal Rating: 5/10
Andy Booth Taken off at half time suffering a hamstring injury and will be sorely missed. Close with one back-post header Rating: 5/10
David Graham Back for a first start in three games, he was as close as anyone to scoring with a header brilliantly saved on 54 Rating: 5/10
Town failed to take advantage of some half decent chances in the first half after going behind on just four minutes to Gary Mulligan's strike, but the real turning point came nine minutes into the second half when, from a great cross by sub Pawel Abbott, David Graham's fine header was superbly saved by Jason Brown
Spotlight on the ref:
Nottingham referee Phil Joslin made some very puzzling decisions. Kept up with play well but his use of cards caused some confusion and also his application (or not) of advantages.
The overall impression was that he had a below-par game and frustration on both sides undoubtedly came close to boiling over
Gillingham: Brown; Wallis, Sancho, Cox, Jackman; Black (Spiller 84), Pouton, Crofts (Flynn 67), Jarvis; Byfield, Mulligan. Subs not used: Crichton (Gkp), Johnson, Harris.