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Since we last met: Forest Green Rovers

22 March 2024

Club News

Since we last met: Forest Green Rovers

22 March 2024

Staring down the barrel of the relegation shotgun just a couple of months ago, Forest Green Rovers are firing back and making a real fight for survival.

They have doubled their win tally for the season in Sky Bet League Two in their last eight matches and now sit in the bottom two of the division on goal difference alone.

THE LAST MEETING

Ben Close fired in a stoppage time winner to secure a first league triumph of the season for Rovers on their visit to the New Lawn in September.

The midfielder came off the bench in his return from injury and made it an extremely memorable occasion as his ball from the touchline found the top corner in the 96th minute.

It saw Rovers shake off the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser when Forest Green skipper Jordan Moore-Taylor cancelled out Harrison Biggins’ brilliant first half overhead kick.

Rovers’ performance on the day was a multi-faceted one, with real attacking threat in the first period coupled with dogged determination and bodies-on-the-line defending.

Typifying that element was the showing of goalkeeper Louis Jones, called into action at 24 hours’ notice following an injury to Ian Lawlor and responding with a stunning performance.

FOREST GREEN’S RECENT FORM

Having won just four times in the league up to the middle of last month, Forest Green now have eight victories under their belts.

Their last eight matches have brought four wins and a draw to see them eliminate a gap to safety that looked insurmountable not too long ago.

A home defeat to bottom side Sutton United last weekend damaged their hopes and saw them drop back into the relegation zone on goal difference however.

Key to their improved run of form appears to be defensive solidity, with an average 0.75 goals conceded per game over the last eight games compared to 1.9 over the previous league matches.

LAST TIME OUT

Forest Green Rovers 0 Sutton United 1

Sky Bet League Two, Saturday, March 16, 2024

Line-up: Reyes, Bunker (Jones 71), Inniss, Moore-Taylor, Thompson, McCann, Osadebe (Keogh 89), Robson (Lavinier 71), McAllister, Doidge, Omotoye (Maddox 72). Subs not used: Searle, Bernard, Johnson.

THE MANAGER

It has been a turbulent campaign for the Gloucestershire outfit, with three managers taking the hotseat, including an ill-fated month-long spell for former Watford striker Troy Deeney.

But it is under current manager, the experienced Steve Cotterill, where they have shown signs of life -  collecting 14 points from 11 matches, including impressive wins over both Walsall and Bradford City.

Cotterill first stepped into management in 1997 with Cheltenham Town, who he carried from the sixth tier to the third in five years.

After spells with Stoke City, Burnley, Notts County, Portsmouth and Nottingham Forest, he joined Bristol City and guided them into the Championship before stints with Birmingham City and Shrewsbury Town before moving to Forest Green and reaching 800 games as a manager.

THE KEY MEN

Goalkeeper – Vicente Reyes

Chile U23 goalkeeper Reyes is currently on loan from Norwich City, who he joined last summer, having been a product of the Atlanta United MLS youth set up. Signed towards the end of the January transfer window, Reyes has made eight appearances so far, keeping three clean sheets and conceding six goals.

Defender – Ryan Inniss

The club’s first signing of last summer looked to be a statement of intent. The 6ft6in centre half played 40 games for a Charlton Athletic side that finished tenth in League One in the previous season. The 28-year-old came through the ranks at Crystal Palace and had ten loan spells before joining the Addicks in 2020.

Midfielder – Charlie McCann

The 21-year-old joined Forest Green last January in search of first team football. Emerging through the ranks at Manchester United, the Northern Ireland age group international switched to Rangers in 2021 and made his professional debut for the Glasgow giants. This season has brought two goals in 40 appearances for FGR.

Striker – Christian Doidge

In his first spell with Rovers, Doidge gained legendary status by scoring 66 goals in 122 games to help them into the National League and gain survival in League Two. The Welshman joined Hibernian in 2019 and netted 41 goals in 148 appearances north of the border. He had eight goals to his name this term.

HISTORY

Formed in 1889, Forest Green Rovers played in local and regional football, when they joined the Football Conference as Southern League Champions in 1998 - the same year Rovers dropped out of the Football League.

The first meeting of the two Rovers came in September 1998, when Forest Green won 1-0 at Belle Vue. In February 1999, at the old Lawn, the sides drew 0-0. In all the clubs met ten times in the Conference, Doncaster winning six times and Forest Green twice.

This season the teams contested their first ever Football League match, at the New Lawn on September 16. Goals from Harrison Biggins and Ben Close sealed a 2-1 win for the visitors.

TURNED OUT FOR BOTH

Defender Matt Mills appeared for both clubs within the Football League. He joined Doncaster from Manchester City, initially on loan, in 2007, and played in the League One play-off final at Wembley when Rovers beat Leeds United 1-0. He signed permanently for 2008-09 in the Championship, and made 86 appearances, scoring three goals, before joining Reading in a club-record sale.

In July 2019 he joined Forest Green for their second season in the Football League and made 20 appearances. These matches brought down the curtain on his professional career.

Contributors: John Coyle and Gavin Hepworth

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