11:34am Monday 30th December 2013
By John Light
ONE win, one defeat. Christmas has brought mixed fortune to Forest Green Rovers.
Following on from the FA Trophy defeat by Chorley this has caused some prophets of doom to keep muttering on and this was highlighted during our 1-o defeat at Hereford onSaturday night.
I am not among them, thinking the performance to be on the good side of average. Fifteen shots at goal and 63 per-cent of possession are statistics that back me up, but still we lost, why?
First and foremost we gifted a poor goal.
The footballer currently known as Prince was badly out manoeuvred and this allowed the Hereford right winger to put a dangerous cross into the penalty area, it should have been cleared.
The ball fell to Jon Brown and his firm strike won the game for the Bulls. Rovers endeavoured to equalise and in so doing had most of the play, but the larger more muscular home side defended well and won a game when a draw was the best they deserved.
Rovers should have been awarded a penalty. Near the end of the game after a blatant hand ball.
The referee could have been unsighted. His assistant certainly was not.
Rovers battled throughout the game, not creating enough real chances but, in my view deserving at least a point.
By now some readers are thinking what game were you at Light.
Rovers were poor. Not according to the neutrals, who phoned me up Sunday morning or spoke to me as I was supporting Mrs Light at her two Sunday services.
“You must be choked John – you deserved so much more” sums up several spontaneous comments.
Hereford were certainly hard to break down.
Their defence was superbly marshalled by Luke Graham. Not using him properly was one of Dave Hockaday’s biggest mistake. Backed up by a muscular midfield and with a size advantage all around the pitch, they gave a superb example of how to defend a 1-0 lead.
In some respects Rovers did not help themselves, needing to be incisive in the final third of the field, and it must be remembered they have been scoreless in three of the last four games.
It also must be remembered they played with a makeshift back four where all first choice players (Hodgkiss, Turley, Oshodi, Stokes) were either injured or suspended as was utility defender Paul Green.
Oshodi’s suspension was a surprise to nearly everyone.
His Boxing Day booking had been missed by the watching media (I miss one match and the standards drop) but noted by Ashley Loveridge, so I was able to inform the disbelieving press box of the reason for his absence.
Kieron Forbes was a makeshift right-back, giving a performance of pluck and perseverance. He was on his knees at the end.
Despite the gaffe resulting in the Hereford goal the back four were reasonable. Prince however is not in top form.
Midfield was patchy. Kelly was effective going forward but this is an area where we are most vertically and physically challenged. If any new players come in a strong, tall, ball winner would be the best possible choice.
Ady plays a 4-4-2 formation with the two wide men in the middle four having the freedom to go forward.
As suggested in last week’s column James Norwood was freed from midfield responsibilities and against Aldershot lined up with Danny Wright as one of the front two. We won and Norwood scored.
Initially that was Saturday’s line up with Matty Taylor playing in the wide right midfield role. He made little impact and in the second half and moved forward with Norwood dropping back.
Norwood played as a centre-forward for much of his career and must be persevered with as an out –and- out forward. He can raid from the flank or through the middle. Keep him in the danger area.
There is one more reason for personal optimism and that is the fact that Ady has united the squad.
Relations with the previous manager plummeted after the home defeat by Tamworth and the squad became divided. Those days have gone now. All we need now is a few more wins.
I would like to congratulate Richard Joyce, who is now the official stadium announcer at the New Lawn.
Joycie replaces Garry Mitchell. I understand the young man delivered with great gusto against Aldershot on Boxing Day.
I believe one voice is plenty- we had three before, and please get Joycie on the pitch before the game.
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