With quarter of the League Two season gone D3D4 look at how EFL new comers Forest Green Rovers have done so far…
It all started so well for Forest Green. By the end of their first 45 minutes in the EFL they had yet to concede and were 2-0 up over their old adversaries from the Conference days, Barnet. Christian Doidge, their top scorer from the previous season, grabbed both the goals. It was a great start but Barnet stormed back in the second half and grabbed a point from the New Lawn, leaving Mark Cooper pondering what could have been.
August PL 4, W 1, D 1, L 2
The Barnet game out the way Forest Green travelled to take on the League Two title favourites (according to the bookies pre-season) Mansfield Town. It was a tough game and one that Forest Green failed to really trouble the Nottinghamshire outfit. Up next was a home game against Yeovil who had conceded 8 in their last away game at Luton. The Glovers keeper gifted Forest Green two goals as Mark Cooper’s side secured their first ever Football League win with a 4-3 seven goal thriller at the New Lawn, as both Christian Doidge and Omar Bugiel were on the scoresheet.
No one saw what was coming next, an away trip to Essex saw the Gloucestershire club thrashed 5-1 and the defensive display that Forest Green put in was a worrying sign of things to come as August drifted into September.
September PL 7, D 1, L 6
The seven games in September yielded just a single point for Forest Green as the gulf between their Conference opponents and their League Two adversaries became apparent. A 3-1 defeat away at Wycombe was followed by some comical defending in the 3-1 defeat at home to Exeter. Both sides are among the best in League Two so far this season and they don’t need many chances to score but Forest Green were making some basic mistakes and such is the luck of a side down the bottom, every mistake is punished.
Lincoln City were the next visitors to the New Lawn and in terrible weather the Imps managed to grab a 1-0 win. A hard fought draw at fellow strugglers Port Vale saw Vale manager Michael Brown dismissed as Omar Bugiel got the second half equaliser for Rovers. This would be the last time Forest Green would score in September as they lost the next three. First was a 2-0 home defeat in front the T.V. cameras where two defensive lapses were the difference between the two sides. A 3-0 drubbing at Cambridge followed before another 1-0 defeat, this time at home to Accrington, left Rovers in big trouble.
As October brought the start of the real autumnal weather, Mark Cooper’s side played really well away at Notts County and were seconds away from grabbing a win thanks to another Omar Bugiel strike, brilliantly set up by Christian Doidge, only for Rob Milsom to break the travelling fans heart by equalising in the 6th minute of time added on.
The optimism from that performance didn’t last long as Newport County thrashed Rovers 4-0 to see Mark Cooper’s side drop into the bottom two. Pressure is mounting on the manager that helped get Forest Green into the Football League as results just aren’t improving. With away games at Coventry and Stevenage up next it is hard to see things turning any time soon. The home game against Morecambe at the end of the month is already looking like a 6 pointer for Rovers and winning against those teams around them could be the difference between stay up and not come the end of the season.
Christian Doidge may not have scored in a while but he is still the best hope for Rovers and if he can get a bit of confidence back then he should be able to make double figures. He looks as though he could form a dangerous partnership with Bugiel given the right tactics.
Most surprising player?
Drissa Traore looks like he has talent but the biggest surprise has to be Liam Noble having his contract cancelled only to go and join Notts County on a free, when just a few weeks earlier Forest Green rejected a £100,000 approach for the player from the same club, there’s just no justice.
Performance against expectations?
Being in the bottom two was not what the fanbase were expecting and neither was Dale Vince so expect some pretty quick changes if things don’t improve. The club do not want to go back down as it was a long hard slog to get promoted in the first place.