Stephen Clemence pleased with point after sickness bug ravages Gillingham squad

Stephen Clemence praised his Gillingham players for salvaging a point at home to relegation battlers Grimsby after a sickness bug had ravaged the squad.

George Lapslie equalised two minutes after Donovan Wilson’s early opener for the Mariners, with both managers accepting that a draw was a fair result.

Clemence admitted afterwards that getting anything out of the game was a good outcome considering the Gills’ disrupted build-up.

He said: “There were some very, very good performances.

“I’ve got nine players who barely trained this week and three who have hardly eaten anything this week.

“I was still getting texts from our physio this morning about players being ill – one more player pulled out this morning. We’ve had a very bad sickness bug here, I’ve never seen anything like it in all my time in football.

“Fair play to the players for performing the way they did. It took a lot for them to get through that. We’ll take the point and move on.

“We’ve harped on about not taking our chances all season and we’ve said that we could be a nearly team if we don’t take our chances. I’m not stupid, I know the problems at this football club. They will get sorted, I promise.

“But we’re still in the mix, the boys have to keep believing, and we’re a point closer with seven games to go. They performed to the levels I expect, so I won’t criticise them for that.”

Wilson had put Grimsby in front after 13 minutes, finishing off an incisive breakaway led by skipper Gavan Holohan.

The lead was short-lived, though, with Lapslie tapping home Timothee Dieng’s cross as Gills levelled almost immediately.

Harvey Rodgers did brilliantly to deny Jonny Williams as Gillingham almost took the lead, before Holohan and Wilson missed chances to restore Grimsby’s advantage.

Connor Mahoney hit a post for Gillingham with the best chance of the second half, and Mariners boss David Artell was satisfied to come away with a point.

He said: “I just said to the boys that, whereas at Sutton a couple of weeks ago we deserved all three points, that was definitely a well-gained one-point game. There were definitely some tired bodies at the end.

“They changed shape for the first time in a long time which caught us off-guard, but we settled into the game and then got a good goal.

“We knew the next 10 minutes would be crucial and if we could have kept them out at that point the game would have been different. We know that Gillingham don’t score many, but we couldn’t quite get through that period.

“The players dug in, rolled their sleeves up, and we could have nicked it at the end.

“I think a draw is a fair result, and it’s another point on the board.

“We’re six unbeaten now – I’m not sure how many teams in this league are unbeaten now, but that’s us.”

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