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Salford City v Gillingham preview: Gills’ head coach Stephen Clemence taking on former Birmingham City team-mate and current Ammies chief executive Nicky Butt this Saturday

Gillingham’s head coach Stephen Clemence says the friendships will be on hold at Salford as his men look to maintain their play-off push.

Clemence knows the Salford head coach Karl Robinson well and the club’s recently appointed first team coach Alex Bruce is the son of Steve - who for over a decade he worked alongside. Steve Bruce is the father-in-law of Salford’s leading goalscorer Matt Smith.

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence looks ahead to match against friends at Salford Picture: @Julian_KPI
Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence looks ahead to match against friends at Salford Picture: @Julian_KPI

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The Gills head coach also played alongside Salford’s chief executive officer Nicky Butt at Birmingham City. Butt’s part of the “class of 92” alongside Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, the Neville brothers and Paul Scholes who purchased Salford City in 2014.

But for Clemence, all of that will be put aside when his team turn up at the Peninsula Stadium for Saturday’s League 2 encounter.

He said: “There are a number of people I know at the football club and I look forward to seeing them but looking forward to taking them on as well. We are going up there to come back with a positive result.

“Maybe there will be a beer after the game - but there won’t be a tea before. It will be full focus on the game. We are going up there to win, it is not about who your mates are, once you cross over that white line it is about winning football matches, it doesn’t matter who it is against.

“They are a completely different side to the one we played (in mid-November) when I first arrived at the club, they play very differently. Karl (who was appointed in early January) has had one defeat in 10 games. They have big Matt Smith up front and they use him a lot, they get bodies around him, we know we have to be bang at it.

“There will be a lot of duels going on and we will have to stay with runners, there will be quite a bit of physicality to the game, and the pitch isn’t great, but we have to go there and stand up to them and once we do that we have to go and make sure we play ourselves, and if we do that I am confident we can get a result.”

Salford’s unbeaten start under Robinson ended with a 5-1 loss at Mansfield last weekend and they picked up a point at home to Colchester United on Tuesday night. Smith scored his 23rd goal of the season in the draw.

Clemence knows that Robinson’s men will be another big challenge for them.

He said: “Karl is a very good manager, I know him very well, he has done very well throughout his career, he has changed the way they are playing and has got results.

“He has a lot of enthusiasm and he is a good technical coach, it will be a difficult game, they all are, but I know wherever we go, teams will be thinking the same about us and they know we have our threats and we have to make sure we show them at Salford on Saturday.”

The Gills start the weekend eighth in the table, dropping a place in midweek after being leapfrogged by Walsall.

League 2 table

Clemence has a points tally in mind that he wants to get to and said: “We are not far off it, I kind of know what the averages are to get into certain positions in the league over the last six or seven seasons.

“It wasn’t long ago we went to Notts County and put a few past them, there have been other good performances too, we can beat anybody, we really can.

“We will have to be fully at it, which we will be, and we should be looking forward to every game at the minute, as a footballer this is a great part of the season, you get towards the end of the season and you’re in with a shout of being successful.

“I say to them, go and enjoy it, go and make the most of it, don’t miss the opportunity, don’t let is pass you by.”

Gills’ current projected points total is 69 if they continued with an average of 1.5 a game, which is what they’re currently on after 34 games. The 10-year average for a play-off spot is around the 73 mark. It’s an average of 82 for the automatics.

Under former boss Andy Hessenthaler the Gills just missed out on the League 2 play-offs in successive seasons with eighth place finishes on 72 and 68 points. Gillingham will also need to be mindful of a goal difference that is worse than most of the play-off chasers.

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