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HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: Forest Green Rovers

We take a closer look at tomorrow's opponents

26 January 2018

Back-to-back clean sheets have offered promise for the Blues, who will be looking to pick up three points when Forest Green Rovers visit Cumbria.

Having beaten the newly-promoted side just over a month ago, Keith Curle will be hoping that lightning strikes twice.

Meanwhile Forest Green are scrapping away at the bottom of the table and know a triumph could lift them out of the relegation zone.

We put Mark Cooper’s men under the spotlight ahead of their visit to Brunton Park:

Climbing Clear

In their first season in the Football League, Rovers started the season slowly as they won just one of their first five games in all competitions.

But some positive form followed which saw them climb off the bottom of the table, and they are now five points ahead of rock-bottom Barnet and just one point adrift of safety.

Yet Cooper will be somewhat disappointed with his sides recent form which – while pulling them away from danger – has yielded just two wins in the last nine outings.

Their last game saw three points claimed however, after a thrilling 5-2 win over Cambridge United.

New Recruits Starting Strongly

Rovers have strengthened considerably in the January Transfer Window, bringing in no fewer than seven new faces, and they have started to have an impact.

Attacking midfieler Dayle Grubb – signed after his impressive goalscoring form at Weston-Super-Mare caught the eye – netted twice in the win over Cambridge at the weekend.

And he was joined on the scoresheet by loanee Tahvon Campbell, who has signed from West Brom just 24 hours previously.

Meanwhile defensive trio Gavin Gunning, Farrend Rawson and Louis Laing have all helped to tighten up a leaky backline since their arrivals.

What Does History Tell Us?

The two sides have only met twice before this campaign - both during the 2004/05 season - as each team claimed a victory away from home.

United travelled to Forest Green in August of their Conference season and ran out 3-0 winners at Rovers thanks to an early Andy Preece strike and goals after the break from Magno Vieira and Peter Murphy.

The return fixture at Brunton Park in April saw Rovers claim revenge as they claimed a 1-0 triumph against Paul Simpson’s promotion-chasing side.

Damon Searle netted the only goal of the game just after the hour mark to sentence the Blues to defeat.

The meeting earlier this season saw the Blues come out on top, as Richie Bennett struck in a 1-0 win.

Watch the highlights from last month's 1-0 away victory here:

Ones to Watch

+ Scott Laird - An experienced full-back, the 29-year-old joined Forest Green after his release from Scunthorpe United in the summer. Comfortable playing at left-back or in a more advanced position, Laird began his career at Plymouth Argyle before moving on to Stevenage where he helped the Boro clinch back-to-back promotions which took them from the Conference to League One. He then followed manager Graham Westley to Preston and made the switch to Scunthorpe in 2015. With plenty of pace to burn and a great delivery, expect Laird to contribute in both areas come Saturday.

+ Christian Doidge - The Welsh striker made the move to Rovers in 2016 and has gone on to become a cult hero having scored prolifically since his arrival from Dagenham and Redbridge. With 27 goals to his name in all competitions last season, Doidge played a key part in helping Forest Green to promotion and has continued his fine individual form this campaign. Having netted a brace at the weekend, he’ll be keen to hit the goal trail once against at Brunton Park.

+ Bradley Collins - A Chelsea youngster, Collins was loaned out to the New Lawn to offer some more competition between the sticks. The 20-year-old joined Chelsea as an under ten player in 2010 and has progressed through the youth ranks, recently signing a new contract which will keep him at Stamford Bridge until next summer. In order to gain some more first team experience, Collins joined Rovers on a season long loan and has looked impressive so far, offering a commanding presence in the penalty area.


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