4:14pm Tuesday 17th September 2013
By John Light
"Calm down! Calm down!! Calm down!!!" These words from commentator Bob Hunt came through the headphones at about 4.45pm on Saturday.
I was supporting him on air on Saturday and Anthony Barry had just struck the winning goal.
Wearing, as always my Forest Green heart on my sleeve my excitement exuberance and exultation took over.
How could one be calm at such a moment? It had been a hard-fought game. A good Halifax side, ahead from a well taken penalty had defended well and looked like winners.
Rovers had played well, but goalkeeper Glennon had been largely untroubled. An away win looked the most likely result.
The fact that this did not happen showed how much this Rovers team is growing up, and Saturday's match showed us how this is happening. First of all they stayed strong. No-one flagged, no-one faltered.
No-one wanted nor expected to fail. Halifax were determined opponents - they had come along way and wanted to win.
They had to be overcome. And overcome they were! It is now a 14-man game and manager Dave Hockaday used his three substitutes expertly. Rovers showed versatility rather than predictability and asked so many questions of the increasingly stretched visiting defenders.
We saw 4-2-4, 5-2-3, and a Rovers team going all out for a win possessing both the desire and belief that this was their right.
That is what I mean by growing up. We know they have the ability. Saturday showed us they have so much more.
They are growing in character. Full-marks to the defence. An injury to Chris Stokes saw Jared Hodgkiss switched to left-back.
He was his usual assured self. James Turley played at right- back for the first half, but changed position with central defender Dale Bennett for the second.
Forest Green full-backs have an attacking role these days and the manager felt that a physically fitter Bennett could perform that role better in the second half.
Needless to say Turley was faultless at centre-back. Credit to the rest of the side. They did what they had to do - showing patience and determination before thrilling us all.
Yes - they went for the jugular! Five minutes of extra-time did not surprise me.
Substitutions had been sluggish and the dismissed Maynard took an age to leave the field. At first he moved towards the nearby dug out but then changed direction and headed for the distant dressing rooms.
The alert ref clocked every second. Halifax were slow to re-organise and in the extra-minute came the hard worked for winner. The celebrations at the final whistle showed the unity of the squad. Substitutes and ot
her squad members rushed on to the field to join their match winning colleagues. Applause rang out everywhere.
There was one moment that it was a personal privilege to be part of Dave Hockaday's post-match press-conference.
These are occasions that Dave does not flinch from and of course after a defeat he is obviously disappointed. On Saturday he was properly and genuinely joyous and rightly so. His team had done him (and of course us!) proud.
Well done Dave. To quote Hannibal Smith "Isn't it wonderful when a plan comes together."
It had been a good day at the New Lawn. I caught most of Garry Seward's pre- match preview and found it thorough and thoughtful. This is a splendid addition to the match day experience.
The Carol Embrey suite was full of faces old and new, many being club ambassadors and their parents. Before and after the match smiles abounded, and why not? We had all be thrilled.
Now for Welling tonight and Cambridge on Saturday. Having been promoted following a long successful run Welling are used to winning. Cambridge have made a stunning start.
Their home record is played four, won four. Goals for 10, against one. Any success will be hard earned.
However with a team that are growing up quickly there is no limit to what we can achieve. We all know it will not always be like last Saturday, but we know that more often it will be, and more importantly the team have similar confidence.
There is one problem however. Picking the team! With so much talent and so many players gaining full fitness, selection will be an increasing problem. No it will not! I have used the wrong word. For problem read opportunity.
That is what our team has, and it is what we have as well. Let's make the most of it.
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