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Club News

FOCUS ON FOREST GREEN

24 August 2014

All you need to know about tomorrow's opponents

Forest Green Rovers entertain their near city neighbours Bristol Rovers in a live televised fixture on Bank Holiday Monday in what will be undoubtedly the biggest League attendance of their history.

Forest Green Manager Ady Pennock has been to an FA Cup final and sampled European competition as first-team coach at Stoke City in the recent past but admits this will be one of the highlights of his career.

“It will be a fantastic occasion and it is one the whole club have been looking forward to since the fixtures came out. I said to the chairman when I first came here that I would love to fill the stadium for a league game.

"Obviously if we get big team in the FA Cup here that would be great, but hopefully we can fill the ground on Monday and show the club off to everyone there and the people watching on BT Sport.”

There are a lot of playing connections between the two clubs. Forest Green defenders David Pipe and Danny Coles were team-mates at the Memorial Stadium for two campaigns in League One, while striker Matty Taylor swapped Nailsworth for the Gas during the summer.

The most eye-catching confrontation could come in midfield, with Forest Green’s Rob Sinclair up against his older brother Stuart.

The club was founded in 1889 as Forest Green by the local Nonconformist church minister. The club became founder members of the Mid Gloucestershire League in 1894. Then moved to the newly formed Stroud & District League in 1902 where they remained for 32 years, also playing in the Dursley & District League.

They were founder members of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League in 1922 alongside Cheltenham Town and won the league three times in 1938, 1950 and 1951.

In 1968 they were founder members of the Gloucestershire County League where they remained for seven seasons when they earned promotion to the Hellenic League in 1975.

The 1981–82 season saw the club win the Hellenic League championship and the FA Vase under manager Bob Mersell at Wembley, beating Rainworth Miners Welfare 3–0 in the final. The same season the club moved upwards into the Southern League where they finished third in their maiden season in the Midland Division.

However in subsequent seasons the club failed to make much of an impact and in 1989 the club changed its name to Stroud F.C. in an attempt to revitalise the football club. The name was changed back to Forest Green Rovers for the 1992–93 season thanks to the introduction of new chairman and investor Trevor Horsley, who worked alongside Andy Coburn and new secretary Colin Peake to re-introduce the club's former title.

The arrival of Horsley changed the fortunes of the club and performances on the pitch improved significantly as did the development of The Lawn. In 2006 the club moved 400 yards away to their new ground appropriately named The New Lawn.

The Green’s  most successful spell came under Jim Harvey who led them to their highest ever league finish of 8th in the 2007–08 season when they  also reached the FA Cup 2nd round losing 3–2 against League One outfit Swindon Town.

In 2008–09 they reached the FA Cup 3rd round for the first time but lost 3–4 to Derby County on 3 January 2009 after leading 2–0. This game also saw Forest Green record their highest ever attendance with 4,836 watching the match.

In their latest game the Nailsworth team faced Aldershot away on Friday night. The away team were unchanged for the fourth game in a row.

Aldershot took the lead on 37 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after David Pipe brought down Roberts, with Brett Williams converting from the spot kick which connected with Russell's body as the keeper dived the wrong way but was powerful enough to find its way into the net.

Mark Molesley tried to set up Sam Hatton to double the lead early in the second half, but the midfielder drilled his shot just wide. The miss proved costly as the visitors won a corner down the other end of the pitch, allowing Rob Sinclair to deliver the ball for Hughes to rise high to head in the 58th minute equaliser, his third goal in four games.

Anthony Tonkin almost set up a second for the home side, but his ball into the box failed to find any of his teammates. Dan Fitchett provided a late threat for the hosts after replacing Williams for the final 10 minutes, but was unable to put the team back in front late on, ensuring that the match finished in a draw.

The result ensured that Forest Green remained unbeaten with 10 points from 4 games.

Pennock said after the game, “I was disappointed with the first half, I thought we were poor. I said a few words at half time as you do and I thought we came out second half all guns blazing, that was much better.

"It was a good test. To come away with a point I’d take that all day long. It is very pleasing. We’ve got a great game at home on Monday but I am very pleased with this performance and result. It was a first class result.”

Talking about Monday’s game he went on, “It’s only about three points for me. It is a fantastic occasion for the football club. I said to the chairman when I first came that I would like to see the stadium in a league game as a full house and that is what we are going to get on Monday.

“So I think it is breaking all of the records as well for a league attendance for us. Let’s just get the three points and then celebrate afterwards. Bristol Rovers will be up there at the end of the season and we know that. It’s a big game and it is so early in the season so if we can get three points it will be a big plus for us.”

Pennock has no injury worries ahead of Monday’s match. Long-term absentees Aarran Racine and James Jennings miss out while Steve Arnold is available. The goalkeeper was on the bench for the first time this season on Friday at Aldershot. Summer signing, Kurtis Guthrie, won't feature as he is currently nursing a knee injury.

There is a lengthy list of players who have reported for duty at both Forest Green and Bristol Rovers. There is of course little surprise in that given both club’s close geographical links.

Defender Billy Clark made over 200 league appearances for the Pirates and also served Forest Green well in his time in Nailsworth. Oxford United and former Gas keeper Ryan Clarke had a season-long loan with Forest Green whilst Byron Anthony also spent time on loan at Nailsworth when a Cardiff player before joining the Gas.

Kaid Mohamed who was on loan at the Memorial Stadium last season had a permanent spell at The New Lawn. Josh Low, Guy Ipoua and Dennis Bailey are other players to have represented both clubs.

Sean Rigg progressed through the youth system with FGR before making his name with the Gas. Julian Alsop is another striker to have worn both outfit’s colours and David Mehew played for both too.

Written by Gerry Prewett.

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