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Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence on a crucial Easter double-header in the League 2 play-off race; Rainham End sold-out at Priestfield for visit of Crewe Alexandra

Gillingham boss Stephen Clemence expects a crucial Easter double-header to sort out the “runners and riders” in the League 2 play-off race.

The eighth-placed Gills begin a vital League 2 double-header at home to Crewe today, a match which is followed by an Easter Monday trip to Harrogate (both 3pm).

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence. Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence. Picture: @Julian_KPI

Heading into the business end of the season, there’s only five points between seventh-placed Crawley and Harrogate, who sit 13th.

Clemence said: “It sorts out the runners and riders, (having) two games quite quickly.

“If we’re in there after these two games, I would imagine we will still be in there until the end of the season. If you have a couple of bad results over the Easter period, obviously, it’s not good at this stage of the season.

“The aim is to get as many points as we can against Crewe and Harrogate.

“They’re two tough opponents but, as I always say, we will be tough opponents for them, as well.”

Gillingham are without a home league win since February 24 but are set to be backed by the majority of a crowd of more than 6,000, with the Rainham End sold-out at Priestfield.

On looking for a win in their last home match until April 13, Clemence said: “That’s always the intention. It’s the intention when we go away from home, too.

“But we’re really looking forward to it. If we can win the game on Friday, which is the aim, we will pull Crewe closer towards us. They’re six points ahead of us at the moment.

“The intention is to try and win the game, and to bring them into the mix, too.

“We don’t want the people that are ahead of us getting too comfortable. We have an opportunity this weekend to make somebody feel uncomfortable.

“We need our supporters to make Crewe feel uncomfortable, we need the players to make Crewe feel uncomfortable and, if we do that, we have got a great chance of getting all three points.”

And while there are perhaps too many draws in there for the Gills’ liking, they do impressively remain unbeaten at ME7 in the league since Boxing Day.

On that record, Clemence said: “It’s something we’re proud of.

“I know we have drawn too many of them - and haven’t won enough - but the boys enjoy playing in front of the home supporters.

“We’ve had some really good performances here, but we maybe haven’t taken enough of our chances when we look back at the games.

“We’re looking forward to playing here on Friday.

“We need it to be a fortress.”

The Gills will look to make it back-to-back wins against Crewe, having earned a 3-2 victory at Morecambe last weekend.

“It’s nice, especially when you have just won your last away game and are coming back to Priestfield on Friday, trying to get back-to-back wins,” Clemence stated. “That’s the intention.

“That’s the full focus of everyone downstairs and we’re really looking forward to the game.

“As I say to you all the time, we look at one game at a time - but, obviously, there are two games coming quickly.”

The pressure now begins to heighten with only six regular league fixtures left to play this term - but it’s a pressure Gillingham’s head coach relishes.

“This is why you want to be in the game,” he said.

“I don’t want to be sitting in mid-table with nothing to play for and I don’t want to be sitting towards the bottom of the table and be in a relegation battle, either!

“This is why I came to Gillingham Football Club because I felt there was the chance of the club being successful. I still believe there’s a chance the club can be successful.

“I think the group of players we have got downstairs really want that, too, and have the ability to be successful. There’s still everything to play for.”

Jonny Williams (groin) was a fitness doubt while fellow midfielder Dom Jefferies (thigh) remains sidelined.

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