THE Forest Green switch-back season goes on.
High-flying Newport are thrashed, but lonely Nuneaton hold us to a draw. That means seven away points out of nine but seems like two points lost. I take another view.
There are no easy BSP matches anymore and value the seven points won. A wise FGR voice has said switch the Newport and Nuneaton results making Saturday the 5-0 win and we would all be rejoicing. It is a view I share.
Nonetheless, two points were lost – why? First of all credit to Nuneaton.
Playing against them was like swimming in a pool of piranha fish.
Rovers’ players were snapped at all over the field, being given no time on the ball and denied space into which to play it.
If the opposition did not win the first ball, they made sure they won the second.
This was especially obvious in midfield – where Bangura and Forbes were ineffective throughout the game. The hustle and bustle of our opponents caused the Rovers players tremendous problems, not least the need to move the ball more quickly than usual. These problems were never solved. Perhaps earlier substitutions (Rowe and Green) after an hour may have helped but the nature of the game would have made it difficult for new players to settle. Last week’s fluency was lacking. It was all very disjointed.
The result hung on three refereeing decisions. The penalty was awarded for shirt pulling and was the correct call, as was the offside decision – I was in a good position and thought he was a yard offside. The free-kick from which their goal came was more contentious. Norwood won the ball, but that is no real defence – referees judge the angle of the tackle. This one was from “well behind square”.
Some referees would have let it go, but not when you are playing away.
The result may have been a disappointment but the day out was not.
Supporters of all ages packed the bus, causing supremo Sam to think about future family or child offers. Watch this space parents. If your children can travel cheaply they can do so in confidence and safety. Let them go – or better still travel with them.
To visit Nuneaton was a joy. There was the opportunity to both mooch and mingle. I did both enjoying a faggot and mushy peas batch. This was a new word for me – batch being a large soft white roll. Seeing my enjoyment of this a Nuneaton regular said “we are justifiably as proud of our catering as you, justifiably are of yours”. Everyone I encountered was friendly, and where necessary helpful. I did not expect to find the beating heart of football in a trading estate in a drab midlands town. On Saturday I did, and will certainly return.
Return is something three popular FGR faces will certainly do. James Bittner, Luke Graham and Simon Clist may all be selected to play for Hereford on Tuesday, January 22. They should be well received. James had one outstanding season and kept us in the league. Luke was an uncomplaining squad player who never let us or himself down. Now captain and a key member of their defence he is showing us what he can do. Simon was a typical Jim Harvey player, making the left-sided midfield position his own. There is a picture of him in our kitchen, as he was a member of the Barnet promotion winning side (2004-5), playing for most of the season at left-back.
Leaving much more recently has been Chris Todd, and he has gone with the good wishes of everyone. Forest Green waived a fee for Chris (Newport would have paid one) meaning that Eastleigh, in getting Chris for free could offer him a better and longer deal than would otherwise have been the case. Well done to both clubs but also to Chris. Football does not often throw up examples, but that is exactly what Chris was. Living his life with decency and determination he dealt with all the battles that beset him in a way that shows both courage and character. We shall miss him. Supper and whiskey awaited my return on Saturday, “was it a good day? “Asked Mrs Light.
“The day was joyous” was my reply – “the football less so.” You will all have your own view. I will settle for seven points out of nine and a faggots and peas batch.