1:10pm Monday 21st October 2013
By John Light
THE best I have seen Rovers play all season – trouble was it was just for the first 25 minutes!
Playing with a 4-4-2 formation Forest Green were the better side with Klukowski on the right, Kelly the left and Barry and Bangura in central positions and with Wright and Mangan two lively strikers the home team were being asked questions they could not answer.
It was no surprise when Yan Klukowski put us ahead. Grimsby were at a loss to deal with a team passing and moving well. The home crowd were getting restless.
Then disaster! A rash tackle by Eddie Oshodi, well deserving of a straight red, changed the game. The Grimsby players raised their game and with the noisy crowd now behind them pushed hard for victory.
Rovers did not surrender and although sloppy defence, when faced by a left wing attack, resulted in the equaliser, they still managed to take the game to Grimsby and a disallowed goal by Chris Stokes could have given the ten men the lead. Unfortunately a penalty and a disputed third goal gave the home team a win their initial display did not merit.
There has been much discussion about the performance of the referee and deservedly so. He made four game changing decisions. All went against Rovers. At best he got two right (the sending off and the penalty). I do not usually criticise officials but I believe the three in this match were unduly influenced by the increasingly noisy Grimsby crowd, who proved to be an invaluable twelfth man. Our ten men had no chance however hard they tried, and try they did. None of them gets any criticism from me.
Some questions must be asked however, the first one being about discipline. We all know the statistics and we know this is not a new problem. Saturday’s sending off cost us the game, one of the bookings has resulted in a suspension and another player has a rapidly rising total. It is a problem we are all aware of. What we are not aware of is whether anything is being done about it. It is a management problem and action needs to be taken now! Why has it taken so long?
Secondly the substitution that followed the sending off. We were a goal in front and the four man mid-field was performing splendidly, dominating the game. Pulling off the effective and energetic Klukowski weakened our most effective area. Would it not have made more sense to take off Mangan and play a 4-4-1? We had a lead to hold on to – would that not have been the best way of doing it? Yan has been substituted three times this season as a result of sendings off. This hard working squad member deserves better.
What will happen next depends first and foremost on chairman Dale. He alone knows the cost of saving the club and must hope for the day when both he and we can see the value. It is difficult in these dark days but from the sadness of Saturday one bright light emerges. It is quite simply the way the team played for the first 27 minutes. The manager showed he can change, that there is another way, and the 4-4-2 formation was a revelation, more please. It showed off the technical skills of our players to considerable advantage.
Now for the welcome diversion of the FA Cup. We all need cheering up and a good cup run would do this. The team selected will be weakened by suspensions and injuries, but it should be the strongest available. We deserve nothing less.
We also deserve the chance to see both Rovers and Shortwood. There were two ways to do this – a staggered Saturday start or one game being played on Sunday. With the club unable to sort it out the FA should have intervened. It is their competition – they own it and as such have a duty to sponsors and fans. They should have intervened.
It will not be just spectators who miss out. Those who rely on radio and the press will suffer because the resources of local media are limited. FA Cup ties for FGR, Shortwood, Gloucester City as well as a Cheltenham league game will cause problems even Radio Gloucestershire cannot solve. This newspaper will cover both matches splendidly, but who else can?
The game deserves better from its governing body. The vice chairman of the FA serves on a Gloucestershire ticket – what a chance for him to emerge from committee room anonymity!
I console myself with the fact
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