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Hereford v Gillingham: Head coach Stephen Clemence looks ahead to FA Cup First Round match at Edgar Street

Two cup games in four days is ideal preparation for new head coach Stephen Clemence ahead of a tough first league outing.

Clemence plans to go with a strong team at non-league Hereford on Saturday in the FA Cup First Round, before returning to Priestfield for a chance to see some other faces in action, during their midweek EFL Trophy match against Fulham under-21s.

Stephen Clemence takes his side to Hereford for his first game since being appointed Gillingham head coach Picture: Barry Goodwin
Stephen Clemence takes his side to Hereford for his first game since being appointed Gillingham head coach Picture: Barry Goodwin

More: “I want to give supporters a team they are proud of”

The first game in the league for Clemence will be at Wrexham next Saturday, a side sitting third in League 2.

Up first for the new head coach will be a trip to National League North outfit Hereford.

“I have wanted a game for a little while now so I can’t wait,” said Clemence.

“Hereford will be a very tough one but win a couple of games and we could get a dream tie at one of the big Premier League teams. I am sure all of the players would love to go and take them on, I would, it would be great for Gillingham, that is the aim.

“We will put a strong team out and go and try and win that one and then we have to take care of business on Tuesday against Fulham under-21s as well.

“What I will see over the next couple of games is most of the players up close, I would think most will play over the next couple then before going into the league game the week after.”

Clemence picks up the baton from interim boss Keith Millen with the Gills sitting ninth in the table.

First things first and it’s an FA Cup clash and a competition that Clemence has enjoyed being involved with in the past, as a son watching his dad, then as a player himself and a coach.

While at Hull City he was a coach at the 2014 final at Wembley, where they lost 3-2 to Arsenal.

“I’ve a few medals around the house but they are not mine,” said the 45-year-old.

“I have great memories of the FA Cup with my family history, the furthest I got (as a player) was the semi-final, beaten by Arsenal playing for Spurs, which was probably the biggest game of my career and unfortunately we ended up on the wrong side of it.

“I can still remember the feelings of that day and going into it, excited and looking forward to it, but the disappointment afterwards.

“I can remember going into the 1987 Cup Final, Tottenham v Coventry.

“Tottenham were the strong favourites and Coventry beat them 3-2. My dad (Ray Clemence) felt it was going to be his last game, I think he was 39 at the time.

“I was nine or 10 and he managed to get me on the pitch before the game, myself and a few others had a walk around Wembley before the game.

“I can still remember him getting done by the own goal late on, it hit Gary Mabbutt’s thigh and lopped over his head, but I haven’t got a great deal of memories of my father playing, I was too young. I have seen the videos, I was incredibly proud of him and still am now.”

Ahead of this Saturday’s game, Clemence said: “Hopefully we will give the fans something to shout about. The boys will be prepared, we will be going with a strong team, we won’t be taking it lightly.

“Paul Caddis has done very well at Hereford since he has gone in and we are expecting a tough test. We know we are going to have to fight for every ball and be brave when we have it ourselves and that is what we will try and do.”

Hereford boss Caddis will be serving a touchline ban on Saturday after accumulating three bookings this season, watching the game from the directors’ box. His team sit 13th in National League North.

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