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Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence reacts to 0-0 League 2 draw at Forest Green Rovers under their new boss Troy Deeney

Head coach Stephen Clemence admitted Gillingham’s trip to Forest Green was made more difficult by the home side’s change in manager.

They returned with a point following a goalless draw but their preparations were not helped when the hosts appointed player-coach Troy Deeney as their new boss on Wednesday.

Gillingham fans were in festive spirit at Forest Green on Friday night.
Gillingham fans were in festive spirit at Forest Green on Friday night.

That also signalled a shift in formation from Forest Green and it took the Gills a while to come to grips with what they were facing.

“I was disappointed obviously not to win the game, that was our expectation coming into it,” said Clemence.

“But it’s very difficult when you come to play a team that’s got a new manager, we didn’t have a clue what system they were going to play and the system they did play was a bit of a surprise.

“It took a while to get to grips with that in the first half. The lads did that, we didn’t concede, and I thought in the second half once we made one or two adjustments to their system at half-time, I thought there was only one team that was going to go on and win it.

“Unfortunately we had a couple of chances and haven’t taken one of them. But away from home, we take a point on the road.”

Gillingham were able to contain most of what Forest Green offered in the first half, keeper Jake Turner producing one notable save to deny Callum Morton on the half-hour.

But the visitors improved after the break and were able to enjoy the better of the contest.

“The lads were aware (of keeping it tight early) and we didn’t really know what system they were going to play,” added Clemence.

“We thought they were going to be more 4-4-2 but they ended up leaving three up top and taking a bit of a gamble if you like and looking to play and catch up on the break.

“They nearly got there on one or two occasions but in general the lads dealt with it well.

“Second half, I thought there was only one team that was going to go on and win it, unfortunately we haven’t gone on and scored a goal.

“Their system surprised us a little bit and we had to make some adjustments at half-time. We gave them instruction as to where the space was, and how they could find more space on the attack, and they did that well in the second half.

“We managed to get some two-v-ones on the outside against their full-back and on another night it could have been different. But it wasn’t meant to be, we take the point and move on.”

Gillingham were unable to find a breakthrough against Forest Green with midfielder Tim Dieng failing to convert their two best chance inside a minute late on.

Clemence added: “I felt in the second half that it was going to come and there was only one team going to go on and win the game,

“I thought we got into some really good positions and probably weren’t quite clinical enough in them areas.

“It’s a process, we’ve got to keep going through it, we’ve got to keep working on things.

“We’re asking them to do things they haven’t done before and that’s no criticism of anything that’s gone on before, it’s just slightly different to how we’re playing. The lads have to keep working at it and we’ll get better, I’m sure.

“I think you worry even more if you’re not getting chances. There was, for me, a couple of decent opportunities that we haven’t taken. I’d worry if they weren’t in there in the first place. Unfortunately we haven’t taken them but maybe in the next game we will.”

Gillingham were cheered on by more than 400 supporters at Forest Green - just three days before Christmas.

It was a tremendous effort by the club’s loyal fanbase, and one that was much appreciated by Clemence and his squad.

“I want to thank all the travelling supporters,” said Clemence. “There was a great turnout here tonight and for them to come all over here before Christmas is brilliant.

Report: Forest Green 0-0 Gillingham

“We’d love to have sent them home with three points and happy before Christmas but it wasn’t meant to be.

“We know that coming to Priestfield is a difficult place for the opposition. Our supporters get right behind the team and we need their support again on Boxing Day. If they give us that and the boys turn up and have a go like they have in most of the home games I’ve been here then we’ll have a chance. Two home games coming up - can we go and get some results?”

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