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Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence accepts promotion chances have gone this season as chairman Brad Galinson says the club “need change”

Head coach Stephen Clemence remains confident he can bring success to Gillingham after accepting their promotion challenge is unlikely to succeed this season.

The club’s minimum aim was a top-seven spot this season, with a shot at the play-offs should they fail to gain a top-three automatic promotion place. Gillingham, however, start the weekend scrapping it out with a bunch of also-rans in mid-table.

Head coach Stephen Clemence is determined to bring success to Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI
Head coach Stephen Clemence is determined to bring success to Gillingham Picture: @Julian_KPI

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One point over Easter was followed up by a 1-0 defeat at Bradford on Saturday to leave the Gills realistically out of contention for a play-off place. Results on Tuesday night saw the Gills drop to 13th place in League 2.

It’s a disappointing way to head into the final three fixtures, from a season that promised so much, leading the division in the opening weeks and making headway despite the lack of goals.

Clemence took over in November, a month after the surprise sacking of Neil Harris, and has had the team back in the play-off positions on several occasions but has seen a lack of consistency and a continued lack of goals scupper their hopes.

Ahead of a home match with Barrow this Saturday, he said: “It is frustrating but I will keep fighting hard and keep working with the boys to make them better.

“If we don’t get better then we will always be a team where we are now, in the middle of the table, because you have to take games away from people and we haven’t done that enough.

“We should have scored (on Saturday), we should have taken the game away from Bradford, but we were unable to do it.

“We have had plenty of opportunities ourselves to get in there and we haven’t been able to capitalise. The table doesn’t lie at the end of the day, you finish where you deserve to finish.

League 2 table

“How many managers are going to be happy at the end of the season? There are only going to be three or four that are happy.

“There will be the ones at the bottom absolutely sick and the ones near the bottom who will be thinking they got away with one and there will be ones in the middle who think maybe we can do better next season.

“There will only ever be three or four managers happy at the end of the season and unfortunately I am not one of them but I want to be next year.

“I will be working my socks off to make this club successful. I believe we have made some good strides, yes we haven’t got to where we want to get to and it doesn’t look like we will get there but that doesn’t mean I am going to give up. I am going to keep fighting and I will make sure that I make this team as good as I can.

“Have I failed? I am part of the team, so I am part of every result of course, but in some parts I have seen big improvements. But going cold in the box and putting the ball in the corner (of the goal) rather than straight at the goalkeeper, we haven’t done that well enough. I can’t do that for them.

“They have to go cold in the box - everything has to slow down around you, you need to pick your spot and take that responsibility.”

Goalscoring has continued to be a problem for the Gills despite welcome investment from the Galinsons, spending money on fresh faces in the last three transfer windows.

Chairman Brad Galinson said this week on social media that the club “need change to best arm ourselves for something more exciting, ruthless, and worthy. Off the pitch things are better but the football is not.”

What that change will be remains to be seen.

Clemence says he’s already working on additions for next season to try and improve the one big issue that has been letting them down.

He said: “A lot of the boys who are here will be trying to put things right for next season, there are a lot of boys I am really happy with, but like every club we will be trying to make improvements to the squad in the summer.

“There is a lot of work to be done at this football club and we have got to get better at it. It has been like it for a couple of years I believe. We will work hard and we will make sure we do our business right to get us better.

“If we all stick together and make some improvements I really think this club has a great chance of being successful again. We would love to see it back to being where it was in the past. I promise I will be doing my absolute best to do that.

“I see a bunch of lads that are having a go and they are trying their best but it must be demoralising for them as well when they are getting opportunities and the ball isn’t going in the back of the net.”

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