THERE were golden moments at the New Lawn on Saturday, but most had a rowing connection.
To meet Pete Reed as both Mrs Light and I did (we were match sponsors) was both a delight and a privilege. Seb Coe’s Olympic speeches, when he defined sport and how it can enhance our lives are borne out by people like Pete.
In his life, character, dedication, discipline and achievement he is an example to us all. I make no apology for starting a football column in this way. Some things like Pete’s dignity transcend all sports.
Then of course there was the goal celebration. What a brilliant idea! Such inventions bring an extra dimension to our Saturday entertainment.
Sadly that was the high point as far as the football was concerned. After a bright start and an early goal the stage was set for a rout – I sat back and waited for the goal rush. It never came. Rovers allowed Alfreton back into the game – in fact they allowed them to dominate. A draw was in fact a lucky result. Goalkeeper Sam Russell resplendent in his snow drop kit saved us.
Why did we falter? First of all credit to Alfreton. They are a determined side far from subtle, but with a good work ethic. They bustled us (perhaps bullied us) out of the game and meekly, we allowed this to happen.
Basics were forgotten. Rovers can get the ball down and pass it. They can keep possession, but on Saturday this did not happen. Players were either caught in possession or hoofed the ball forward in a high aimless fashion.
When Matt Taylor was eventually substituted it must have been because of a stiff neck, as he had spent so much time looking skyward.
For once the manager’s substitutions did not work. The ineffective Rowe was replaced by Bangura who played a holding role in midfield, with Collins moving forward. When O J Koroma replaced Magno Vieira he gave a performance that reminded me of Lord Lucan.
It was Reece Styche who looked as if he could change the game – often beating his man easily and bursting into the penalty area, but support for him was lacking.
James Norwood was not at his best and troubled by a head injury had three spells on the touchline. This drew attention to his new haircut. Somewhere in the Five Valleys there must be a barber who retains amongst his hairdressing equipment a pudding basin. Now you have won your bet James back to normal please.
Kieron Forbes was very much missed. His flair, speed and anticipation were very much needed. I never realised how much he is the engine room of the team. He drive us on and without him on Saturday we merely freewheeled.
The next six matches are difficult. Four are away from home starting with Macclesfield and then Hereford. The season’s real test starts now.
Players will be monitored in training for both form and fitness; attitude will also be assessed. Only then will the team to play Macclesfield be selected. The strength of Big Ben Wright was missed on Saturday and I hope his calf injury allows him to play. We need him for his dead ball skills alone. Styche should start. He is an exhilarating player and a proven match winner and must be used as such and if James Norwood’s haircut has not had a Samson like effect on his football he should be the third forward.
Defeat will not be a disgrace at Macclesfield – they are a good side, but a lack lustre performance will. Good sides can stand up and be counted. What an opportunity for us to do this! I hope to join Sam and Jamie’s tour with anticipation and confidence, especially if someone reminds the team that football matches can last for 95 minutes. The glorious half- hours I referred to last week are not good enough, more consistent effort please.
I end with a question. What does tika-taka mean? NLP leading writer Stuart Hammonds has used it twice referring to Forest Green’s style of football. I have no idea what he means. If anyone can enlighten me you know where to find me. After the enjoyable experienced of match sponsorship it is back to the press box.