With less than two weeks until the start of the Conference Premier season Forest Green travel to Brimscombe & Thrupp this evening as preparations continue ahead of the new campaign (7.45pm), writes Richard Joyce.
A final pre-season test away from The New Lawn will see Rovers take on Hellenic Premier Division Brimscombe, with the opening league game of the season against Southport twelve days away.
Last Tuesday the Rovers squad split in half, and accompanied by appearances from the club’s academy squad, picked up two wins with successes over AFC Slimbridge at Wisloe Road and Gloucester City at Whaddon Road.
With fitness becomming imbedded, the last full week of activity on the training ground allowed first team boss Ady Pennock the ideal opportunity to reinforce game structures and hone skills with only home friendlies against Crystal Palace and Arsenal to follow tonight's fixture.
“We have been working on doing some shorter and sharper stuff, particularly running wise,” he said.
“The defenders have been working on their shape, the forwards having been working on finishing and the wide players have been working on their crossing.
“All of the things we are doing now are game related because we are just two weeks away from the start of the season.”
This evening’s match rounds off the club’s commitment to supporting local senior sides with pre-season friendlies and cements links that may allow youth players to gain vital match time in senior football while on loan later in the season.
Pre-season meetings with the likes of Shortwood United, Slimbridge, Bishop’s Cleeve and this evening’s opposition have become the norm and it is a link which Pennock is eager to see continue.
“I have said how important it is to have a good relationship with the local clubs around us,” he added.
“That is why we have not travelled that far when playing away. It is great to have a close relationship with other the local clubs.
“It was unfortunate with the Shortwood game. We are trying to get something sorted if we can.”
The Meadow is one of Gloucestershire football’s most idyllic footballing venues. With easy access off the A419 a visit this evening to see Rovers in action is highly recommended.
Team news An illness bug in the camp is beginning to clear after both Magno Vieira and Anthony Barry were struck down with symptoms.
Barry is 50:50 for this evening’s game, however it is likely Al Bangura will return after picking up a calf problem against Bishop’s Cleeve two weeks ago.
Steve Arnold will miss out again, although Chris Stokes and Luke Oliver are fit to take part, as is the club’s latest arrival, Jon Parkin.
Aarran Racine is unavailable as the defender continues his rehabilitation on return from a serious knee injury.
Opposition Brimscombe & Thrupp’s first season in the Hellenic Premier Division proved to be yet another superb year for the Lilywhites as they registered a 12th place finish.
They competed in the FA Vase for the first time and also won three different cup competitions including the Hellenic Supplementary Cup, Floodlit Cup and Stroud Charity Cup.
There has however been a summer of change at Tuesday’s opposition, as long term manager Phil Baker ended his eight year spell as boss at the end of last season.
In his time with Brimscombe, Baker led the club from the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League to the Hellenic League and has been replaced by Mike Green.
Former Shortwood United midfield man Green steps up from a playing role at Brimscombe to lead the club into their second season in the Hellenic Premier.
Green will be looking forward to managing Brimscombe in the FA Cup this season as the Lilywhites pass another major landmark in competing in the world famous competition for the first time.
Several key players have left the Meadow since the end of last season and Brimscombe have been busy recruiting a number of new faces with plenty of Forest Green connections.
A contingent of players who made up Scott Bartlett’s academy squad at The New Lawn have now transferred to the Lilywhites, while former FGR squad member Ash Brown features in the Brimscombe midfield.
Previous meetings Clashes between Forest Green and Brimscombe go back for as long as any other fixture in Rovers entire history.
The two clubs formerly competed at a similar level in the county however in recent years fixtures between the two sides have come in the form of pre-season games.
Tuesday will mark the third consecutive season where FGR have visited the Meadow. Last summer a brace a piece from James Norwood and Andy Mangan plus a Brimscombe own goal and an Omar Koroma strike handed Rovers a 6-0 win.
The summer before, in the first ever game played under Brimscombe’s new floodlights, goals from Reece Styche and Matty Taylor delivered a 2-0 success in Forest Green’s favour.
In July 2008, a Rovers side led by Jim Harvey visited the Meadow to take on a Brimscombe outfit then competing in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League. Rovers came out on top that day winning 7-0.