10:32am Monday 10th March 2014
By John Light
MATTY Taylor has made a welcome return to Forest Green with manager Ady Pennock choosing to recall the self-proclaimed fox-in-the- box back to the New Lawn after his goalscoring exploits at Skrill Premier rivals Chester City.
I applaud the recall, and with the games coming thick-and-fast, I hope Matty is used in his favoured striking role.
If we can defeat Salisbury City at home on Tuesday and Braintree on Thursday, can we dream of a play-off push?
Saturday was a splendid Forest Green day, both on-and-off the field. It reminded me of the immortal words of Hannibal Smith, leader of the redoubtable A-Team.
“Isn’t it wonderful when a plan comes together” were his words at the end of every episode of the gung-ho TV series. His words summed up the feelings of so many of us.
Perhaps the sun had put everyone in a good mood, but there was so much more. Families abounded, the Fair Trade presence added an extra dimension. Presidents Day brought with it nostalgia and the true friendship of football. The Carol Embrey suite was buzzing. There were so many reasons to be proud of our club, and then came the football!
It was a hugely enjoyable match, with plenty of open play. Both sides wanted to win and if you took your eyes off the pitch for a moment you missed something. The referee is to be admired. Wisely he used words rather than cards to keep matters in order, and it worked, others follow that example please. He allowed the game to flow and that is what it did.
Manager Ady’s team selection met with widespread approval. The reassuring presence of James Turley again featured as did the combatative Paul Green in midfield. The bench was a strong one and Rovers looked well set up to take on the successful Cambridge side.
So it seemed when James Norwood scored a thrilling opening goal, but Rovers as a team are starting matches slowly. A long Cambridge corner to the far post exposed the all too frequent fault of aerial defending, and the scores were level. A swiftly engineered breakaway gave the visitors another goal and a heavy defeat seemed likely.
Not so! This team is growing in confidence and courage. The defence settled down, midfield became more assured and Cambridge were pegged back.
Then came disaster. Sam Russell rushed from goal and in getting to the ball clattered a Cambridge forward. The resulting penalty was saved easily and that proved to be the game’s turning point. Before half time we had the unusual sight of a Jared Hodgkiss headed goal, as splendidly executed as it was surprising.
The second half started well and continued that way. A Norwood inspired third goal gave us a lead we never looked like surrendering. Any Cambridge threat was snuffed out by an improving defence.
It was not just the players were deserved credit. A large, boisterous and happy crowd fully backed the team. We were a true twelfth man. The players could hear us!
There were many suggestions for man-of-the-match, a true indication of how well the team played. My candidate was James Norwood. He is audacious, entertaining and, most important of all, he delivers.
His energy on Saturday was amazing considering his midweek exploits. Hodgkiss pushed him close, giving his best left-back performance and of course scoring.
The post match press conference was a most relaxed affair.
Ady is like Bing Crosby at his best, doing things at his own pace, totally in control and with a twinkle in his eye.
Talking about training in the busy week ahead, he spoke of the importance of recovery sessions. His aims for the remainder of the season were two fold, finish as high as possible but also plan for next year.
My view of the league is of an even but high standard.
With the exception of Hyde anyone can beat anyone else. Three up is a valid aim. Has anyone heard a whisper about a campaign for a situation or league clearly merits?
If you do not believe me watch Cheltenham. As I left the Carol Suite on Saturday I saw a man wearing a tee-shirt and jeans. He had longish hair. He was glowing and quite right too. He knows the cost, now we are seeing the value.
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