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Mansfield 2 Gillingham 1: League 2 match reaction from Gills’ head coach Stephen Clemence as play-off hopes are finally ended

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence admitted his side ran out of steam as they surrendered the advantage at Mansfield.

The Gills led 1-0 through Tim Dieng’s goal after an excellent opening half against the promoted side but two goals late in the second half, conceded inside the space of four minutes, consigned them to defeat.

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

Report: Mansfield 2 Gillingham 1

Clemence’s men needed to win the game and rely on other results to go their way to maintain their chance of claiming a play-off place.

In a battle for seventh spot, Crawley were held to a draw by relegation scrappers Sutton, Walsall scored twice early on but were beaten at home by Bradford and Barrow lost to Doncaster. Had the Gills held on for the win, it would have been game-on next weekend on the final day of the season.

Instead, the Gills must start building for another season in League 2.

Clemence said: “I could hear some of the songs that were sung (by the Mansfield supporters) like ‘we’re going up and you’re staying down’ and I didn’t like that, I get it, it’s footballer supporters and they’re having a bit of banter, but I don’t like it, that’s got to be us in the future.

“We played well first half, we had penetration, but unfortunately we ran out of steam and I think had we not run out of steam it could have been a different day.

“I had had to make changes (in the second half). Jonny Williams had a couple of kicks in the first half and he had to come off. Dom Jefferies and Josh Andrews aren’t going to last a game at the moment because they have been out (injured) for a significant period of time. Losing them was a bit of a blow and it changed things.

“There were lessons for some of our younger players, which we can take if we want to be successful at this football club and that’s what I told them in the dressing room, because there were things we still got wrong, we have to make sure we don’t make some of those mistakes again to let them back into the game.”

How the League 2 table looks heading into the final week of the season.
How the League 2 table looks heading into the final week of the season.

Dieng’s opener came after the Gills took the game to their hosts in the first half but Mansfield came good in the second and their own substitutes made a difference.

Davis Keillor-Dunn had a number of chances either side of his goal and Stephen McLaughlin’s rising shot from 20 yards into the top corner completed the turnaround. Those goals came on 77 and 80 minutes.

Clemence said: “We were exactly where I wanted us to be in the first half, the game-plan was working perfectly, you could see what Dom Jefferies brings back to the team and with Josh Andrews up top we were on top.

“I was really pleased with them, the second half you could see Mansfield are a very good team and they deserve to be in the top three, I really enjoy watching them, they are arguably the best team in the division. They create a bit of chaos and we dealt with that really well in the first half, and we created some chaos of our own and they had something to worry about as well, but second half we ran out of steam,

“I had to make changes, we had a couple of knocks and we had to change things, that didn’t go as well as would have liked but it wasn’t down to the changes, there were basic errors for the first goal and you can’t make them, whatever shape you’re in, whoever is on the pitch, that is something to learn from.

“The second goal is a really good strike and you want see many better goals over the weekend and fair play to the boy who hit it.

“You can’t do a lot about the second goal but you can do something about the first one, obviously I know exactly what goes wrong with that one, it is basically just staying with a runner, it is a mistake, people make mistakes but you have to learn from them and not make them again.

“We will dust ourselves down and come back in this week and still try and finish the season as strongly as we can, that’s all we can do.”

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