9:58am Monday 13th January 2014
By John Light
FRUSTRATION and hope! Football fans are used to both states of mind, but not often at the same time, as is the current case at Forest Green.
Frustration first. The team is better than its league position shows. Matches are being dominated but not won. The last two televised matches against Hereford are classic examples.
Yet again Rovers have fallen victim of the curse of the cameras failing to do themselves justice when on television. Twenty one shots for Rovers and four for Hereford show the extent of home team domination, yet there is just one point to show for all our efforts.
Fair play to Hereford who certainly know how to defend, but they should have left The New Lawn empty handed.
Frustration also because of injuries. I like Racine as a centre- half but how often is he fit?
The previous manager thought him the most promising of all our central defenders but his frequent absences are denying him the chance to prove it.
Yet again the match against Grimsby will be played with another makeshift back four on Tuesday.
The situation is of course compounded by another red card and subsequent suspension. Dale Bennett may have been unlucky but foul and abusive language is, as it should be, a sending off offence.
Dale has a defence in this instance because it is a law that is inconsistently applied. Nevertheless our card count is far too high and the resultant suspensions have weakened the team.
Would it not be a worthwhile idea to invite a senior referee to explain to the players what is expected on the field? Some are obviously naive. Hereford defended strongly and robustly but conceded seven free kicks. Rovers gave away 17. These are stark figures. You cannot blame referees for that imbalance.
When I first spoke to the manager he hoped this column would always be positive, and there are so many reasons for being exactly that.
The first can be summed up in two words, Reece Styche. We all know what Reece can do. Yes, he plays on the edge, but an edge is exactly what he gives us.
Running at defences with spirit and vigour he gives our team a threat that has so often been lacking. It is important to manage his fitness but perhaps now is the time for him to start games.
Danny Wright unstinting in his efforts this season, deserves a rest and of course is a ready-made replacement if Reece tires.
Thank goodness the rumours of Reece leaving seem groundless. He joined the press at a recent away game and his knowledge, love of the game and loyalty to Forest Green were so clearly obvious.
I mentioned hope earlier on and I am looking forward to a delicious moment on Tuesday evening when the newly repaired drum (Richard – not Chris Chandler – is the man to thank) is banged in celebration of Reece scoring the winning goal.
Another real reason for hope is the use being made of the transfer window. Lee Hughes would have been the subject of many offers but chose Rovers.
That is an example of an experienced and streetwise player realising the potential here. I thought when Barnes Homer signed it was an expensive and unnecessary signing. Nothing subsequently happened that made me change my mind. He has made a move that is good for all concerned and I wish him well. We shall soon I expect be reading about others on their way.
Saul Williams, moving to Paulton came after the Somerset club had failed in a move for Lee Smith of Cirencester. Since leaving Forest Green Lee has been nomadic, playing for Nuneaton, Worcester, Cinderford and Gloucester.
Now 30 years- old, Lee is playing the best football of his career. He has scored over 20 goals and with the ball played to his feet he is a constant danger.
Steve Davies, also formerly of this parish plays alongside him in the Centurions attack, where on Saturday Jody Bevan scored his 250th goal. Congratulations to a genuine football man.
There is still hope of a late play-off push, but each game makes that look more unlikely.
There is real hope however that Ady uses the rest of the season to sort out the wheat from the chaff and by May we will see a Rovers’ team emerging that will give us genuine hope for next season. The frustration of being the season’s under achievers can be well and truly banished.
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