FOREST GREEN boss Mark Cooper lauded the impact of rookie 19-year-old striker Taylor Allen after his stunning match-winning impact off the bench got Rovers off to a season flyer.

It took Allen just seven minutes to make an impact – rifling into the roof of the net on 71t minutes, grabbing his first goal on his Football League debut.

Cooper, who plucked the gem from non-league Nuneaton, beamed: “ I put him on I knew he’s got a goal in him, he’s got a great left-foot on him he nearly burst the net with that one and the one afterwards – we think he’s one who has got a really bright future for his age However, Cooper was incandescent with the 2nd-minute challenge on George Williams which forced the Welsh international off with a potentially career-threatening injury following a Zak Mills challenge.

“We think he’s going to have surgery,” revealed Cooper. “I don’t understand the referee, it’s a two-footed tackle off the floor and the referee’s word was ‘I’ll let you have that as it’s your first one’.

“You are talking about people’s careers here and I don’t understand it.”

Cooper isn’t reading anything into his side’s League Two opener.

He remains grounded in the embryonic stages of his side’s third season of League Two football.

“I don’t read too much into the first game,” said Cooper.

“You get a lot of freak results because people are still finding their feet, new signings are bedding in, so different variables. It’s always lovely to win the first game and then everyone can get carried away and think ‘we’re going to do this and do that’, but if you lose there’s a lot of doom and gloom, ’sack the manager, we’re going to get relegated’.

“It’s important we keep our heads and keeps focussed on the end goal.”

Five points shy of the automatics last season, Rovers will fancy a top-six finish. Cooper certainly had a busy pre-season of summer recruitment with 10 newbies inside the New Lawn stadium. Five of his fresh faces made it into the starting eleven.

Marquee summer signing Matty Stevens begun on the bench as Cooper gave debuts to Dom Barnard, Matt Mills, Aaron Collins, Kevin Dawson and James Morton. The Rovers’ boss opted for last season’s third-choice Lewis Thomas in goal for his league bow ahead of summer signing from Bristol Rovers Adam Smith. Rovers were without energetic midfielder Carl Winchester, missing through injury and suspension and Liam Shephard (knee).

Rovers suffered a blow from the get-go -George Williams was on the end of an over-zealous challenge inside the opening two minutes from Zak Mills and after three minutes of on-pitch treatment he was replaced by Junior Mondal.

The early substitution appeared to knock Rovers out of their rhythm with both sides struggling to find any semblance of cohesion.

Meaty challenges were being administered as the game meandered into mind-numbing mediocrity, but referee Neil Hair had finally seen enough and dealt his first yellow on Oldham’s Mohamed Maouche for a dangled leg on Dawson on 36 minutes On the cusp of the break a clearly frustrated Joseph Mills incurred a 42- minute booking for dragging back Mohamed Sylla after the Rovers’ captain had made a hash of his own free-kick just seconds earlier.

Such was the paucity on offer – the first meaningful strike of the half came in stoppage time – Joseph Mills spanking one over from the edge of the box.

Rovers’ signings have added substance to a side who play a vibrant style of football, but it was the Latics who threatened first after the restart – Sylla slicing high, wide and not very handsome.

Rovers will feel aggrieved when Joseph Mills was upended on the edge of the box by David Wheater after his driving run came to halt – play continued with Collins seeing his shot parried by Gary Woods for Shawn McCoulsky to stab home, but celebrations were curtailed with play being halted for the earlier foul and Wheater being handed a booking.

Clearly roused – Rovers were denied by the glove of Woods from a McCoulsky rocket.

Cooper turned to his bench on 64 minutes – ushering on Allen for his debut in place of Collins.

It took the super-sub Allen just seven minutes to make an impact – rifling into the roof of the net to give Rovers the lead after a touch of class from the industrious Joseph Mills.

Stevens came on for McCoulsky with 17 minutes to go.

And Allen was at it again – bustling through to sting the gloves of Woods who somehow tipped the ball over the bar.

FOREST GREEN: Thomas, Bernard, M. Mills, Rawson, McGinley, J.Mills, Dawson, Morton, Williams ( Mondal 5), Collins (Allen 64), McCoulsky (Stevens 73).

Subs not used: Smith, Grubb, Adams, Kitching

Bookings: Joseph Mills 42

Star man: Joseph Mills

Oldham Athletic: Woods, Z Mills, Iacovitti, Sefil, Branger-Engone (Nepomuceno 78), Maouche, Wilson (Segba- Azankpo 64), Missiloui, Sylla (Vera82), Wheater, Hamer

Subs not used: Zabret, Fage, Eagles, Stott

Bookings: Maouche 36, Wheater 52

Attendance: 2,541

Oldham fans: 554

Referee: Neil Hair

COMING UP: Forest Green travel to Darrell Clarke’s League Two newcomers Walsall on Saturday, August 10, 3pm.