01 April 2024

Angry Stephen Clemence admits Gillingham’s ‘heads went’

01 April 2024

Gillingham manager Stephen Clemence admitted he was “very angry” following his side’s error-strewn 5-1 hammering at Harrogate.

The Gills started the afternoon in League Two’s final play-off place but, despite taking a half-time lead through George Lapslie’s header, succumbed to second-half replies from Anthony O’Connor, Matty Daly (two), Jack Muldoon and Abaraham Odoh.

It was the first time the Kent outfit had lost a game after scoring first since January 2022 and saw the club drop to ninth in the standings, with Clemence fuming: “I want to apologise to all of our fans because what I saw in the second half from the players was not acceptable one little bit.

“We put ourselves in a really good position, but the individual errors that we made in the second half were disturbing and I don’t normally say that. We made a couple of mistakes and then got rattled.

“I don’t want to swear, so I’ll just say we were not very good at all after that and we need a reaction now in the next game, because I’m very angry. People’s heads went and we left too much space on the pitch and I don’t ever want to see that again and the players have been told that.

“I accept that people make mistakes, but you can’t follow one mistake with another and another and another, because you end up with a result like that. The plan was to give the players two days off, but they will be in now for both of them.”

In contrast, home boss Simon Weaver confirmed his players would be given a two-day break as the Sulphurites moved to within four points of a top-seven spot.

“We just want to be fighting until the last ball is kicked,” Weaver declared. “We’ve only gone up one place but we’ve also made up a point and, at this stage of the season, that’s huge for us.

“We’ll have two days off now to rest minds, as well as bodies, to come back refreshed and looking forward to another big game at a big ground against Notts County.

“Hopefully, we can have a repeat performance. I can’t promise the same scoreline, but I’ll be looking for another whole-hearted and positive display.”

Praising his players’ response to trailing at the interval, Weaver added: “I really enjoyed the second half after the first had been a bit of a struggle.

“At half-time, we just asked for a positive reaction and that’s what the lads delivered. We got straight on to the front foot and the subs then gave us fresh legs.

“We got some good momentum going and scored some good goals. Everybody stepped up and, while I don’t think the win was as easy as the scoreline suggests, we were very clinical.”

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