Deon Burton came back to haunt his old club once again this season as his 12th goal of the season secured all the three points for table topping Gillingham.
His first-half header was all that separated the two sides, despite Rotherham bombarding the Gills penalty area in the final 20 minutes.
Both teams tried to force an early opening at a rather chilly Priestfield Stadium but were finding it difficult to break each other down.
Daniel Nardiello had the visitors first opportunity in front of goal. After good link up play with strike partner Alex Revell, the Millers top scorer screwed his effort a yard wide of the far post after 11 minutes.
The Gills had a great chance to open the scoring soon after on 14 minutes. Joe Martin’s cross wasn’t dealt with and the ball fell to Adam Barrett who swivelled and forced Shearer to tip over the crossbar.
Nardiello’s surging forward run forced a rash challenge from the Gillingham defence, but Kari Arnason’s 25-yard free-kick was comfortably collected by Stuart Nelson after taking a deflection.
Martin Allen’s team were looking to build their play off the front two of Danny Kedwell and Deon Burton, and it was the pair who combined for the only goal after 22 minutes. A long-throw by Chris Whelpdale from the left was flicked on by Kedwell and converted by Burton who was racing in at the far post.
Whelpdale was unfortunate with a dipping drive on 34 minutes as the Gills continue to apply the pressure. The winger was allowed time and space to turn on the edge-of-the-box but his effort struck the crossbar and was cleared away to safety.
Anton Robinson and Charlie Allen both had shots comfortably saved by Shearer as the home fans cranked up the noise levels. But it was Rotherham who almost equalised on the stroke of half-time as Arnason’s deep cross was cleared off the line by Martin.
Steve Evans made a double substitution at half-time to try and give his team fresh impetuous in search of an equaliser, bringing on Ben Pringle and Michael O’Connor for Lionel Ainsworth and David Noble.
After the break, Whelpdale continued to cause mayhem inside the Rotherham penalty area with his long-throws as Gillingham took the game to the visitors.
A fine counter attack from the Gills almost brought about their second goal. After a surging run from Matt Fish, the defender crossed to Deon Burton on the edge of the area but his well struck shot was palmed away by Shearer.
Nardiello had a glorious chance to grab the leveller on 57 minutes but after Kearns had played the striker through on goal, he waited too long to take the shot and it allowed Nelson to gather at his feet
Evans made his third and final substitution on the hour mark by taking off Nardiello and replacing him with Kayode Odejayi and his first act was to force Rotherham’s first corner of the half as they increased the pressure on the Gills.
However, the Millers were fortunate not to concede a second on 70 minutes. The ball was chested into the path of Kedwell who rattled the crossbar with a fierce drive on the corner of the 18 yard box.
Odejayi and Revell almost combined to give Rotherham an equaliser soon after, however the latter could only fire his shot into a pack of onrushing defenders.
The game was starting to become stretched and Burton had a good chance to get his second of the afternoon after he latched onto the end of Allen’s flick, but he lifted his shot over the bar. Kedwell was next to try his luck when he headed Nelson’s long goal kick towards goal, forcing Shearer into a smart save.
Gillingham were grateful to their goalkeeper on 75 minutes as he pulled off a world class save. The ball fell to O’Connor on the edge-of-the- area who struck the ball on the volley, only to see it tipped over by Nelson with it heading for the top corner.
The Millers pilled on the pressure in the final few minutes and had appeals for a penalty turned down before Revell headed over in the dying seconds.
Gillingham: Nelson, Fish, Martin, Legge, Whelpdale, Kedwell, Robinson, Allen, Burton, Barrett(c), Gregory.
Subs: East, Davies, Birchall, Forecast, Weston, McKain, Muggleton
Rotherham United: Shearer, Davis, Arnason, Mullins(c) Ainsworth, Revell, Nardiello, Noble, Morgan, Kearns, Skarz
Subs: O’Connor, Pringle, Odejayi, Warrington, Frecklington, Agard, Ridehalgh.
Attendance: 6796 (360)