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Preview: Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence looks ahead to League 2 match at Nigel Clough’s newly promoted Mansfield Town

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence isn’t expecting an easy ride at Mansfield - even though their weekend opponents have already sealed promotion.

The Stags have clinched their place in League 1 next season after a midweek win and will be in a party mood when the Gills - still with a mathematical chance of reaching the play-offs - visit Field Mill for the penultimate game of the season.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence is expecting “the best version of Mansfield” this Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence is expecting “the best version of Mansfield” this Saturday Picture: Barry Goodwin

Mansfield can afford to relax in their last two games, with both themselves and Wrexham claiming either second or third place behind newly crowned champions Stockport County.

Clemence said: “We know it will be difficult, I am sure it will be a bit of a party atmosphere there - but we have to try and take the game to them and quieten that atmosphere down.

“We have shown on a number of occasions that we can take anybody on and I have always said that about this group. Where we’ve struggled is with that consistency and that has been because we haven’t scored enough goals.

“If we had scored another 15-20 this season I am sure we would be right where we want to be right now but for one reason or another that hasn’t happened for us but we keep trying, we have two games to go and we want to finish as strongly as we can.”

The Gills are hoping for numerous results to go their way in the final two weeks of the season to make the play-offs, with Doncaster, Walsall, Crawley and Barrow all above them.

“I am not expecting that to happen - I think people will get results around us,” Clemence admitted.

League 2 table

Second placed Mansfield have scored twice the amount of goals that Gillingham have managed - 87 compared to 43 - which is why one team spent the week celebrating promotion and the other is relying on a handful of teams to lose and needing maximum points themselves.

“I have to congratulate them,” said Clemence. “Nigel (Clough, the Mansfield manager) has done a fantastic job over the last three or four years and has put a really good team together…he has accumulated a lot of points this season and also scored double the goals we have.

“They are a good benchmark for the league. If you are going to be promoted from this league automatically that is where you should be aiming. Fair play to them and good luck to them next season.

“Hopefully they have been having a good time and celebrating this week, but I am not relying on that, we have to prepare for the best version of Mansfield and we have to go there and get a result.

“I am sure they have celebrated and rightly so. I have been in that situation myself when I’ve been promoted as a player. We still had a game to play but went out and enjoyed ourselves.

“We had just got promoted with Birmingham (in 2007) as a player and on the Sunday we went to the local pub and stayed in the beer garden all day. We had a very good time, but we still had Preston to play away the following weekend and we still had the title to play for.

“Unfortunately we got beat there 1-0 and it is something I still think about to this day. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone out that day and I might have a league winner’s medal instead of a runners-up one but it happens, players are going to celebrate when they have been promoted and rightly so, well done to them all.

“We know how they play, they have played the same way all season, but there will also be some space for us on that pitch at the weekend and we need to make sure we capitalise on that and when we get into those areas we have to go and deliver and we have to try and have that killer touch in the box, which we found last weekend, we need to find that again.

“We have to try and spoil their party a little bit if we can. I am sure their supporters will still enjoy themselves even if we were winning the game, but we just want to make sure we do our jobs, that’s all we can do going into this weekend.”

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