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PRESS PREVIEW | Forest Green Rovers

Bob Hunt of BBC Radio Gloucestershire gives us the lowdown on Saturday's opponents

9 November 2017

BBC Radio Gloucestshire's Bob Hunt gives us an in-depth insight into the weekend's opponents.

Assessment of the season so far?

They found it difficult at the start and maybe they underestimated the difference between the National League and League Two – the main one being that if you make a mistake at this level you get punished.

Now they’ve improved defensively and they seem to have settled down – they’re making fewer mistakes and they’re not taking as many chances at the back.

They’re undefeated in their last three games on the road against three top sides as well and their away form is showing massive signs of improvement.

Expectation in the EFL?

The anticipation was probably greater than the reality to be honest and maybe they thought it was going to be relatively easier than it has been. The squad is still much the same as the one which won promotion via the play-off places.

In retrospect maybe they should have added more new faces but I think from now on they’ll be safe and they’ll be aiming for more of a mid-table position. I would imagine the aim is to get a firmer foothold in the division and look at safety into the new year. 

What about the boss - Mark Cooper?

He’s not been afraid to admit he’s made mistakes and he’s not afraid to change styles either. He’s bought well in the close season. Particularly impressive has been the introduction of Isaiah Osborne – a man who has Premier League experience.

He’s been fantastic and settled in really well – in this league you always need a few players who calm the game down and he’s been a good influence.

But Mark Cooper has managed in every division apart from the Premier League and he’s still relatively young. At Forest Green Rovers he seems to have learnt from his mistakes and he’s abandoned his philosophy of playing swashbuckling football at times. 

Sometimes he’s gone back to basics more and he’s weathered the storm of a bad start. Some were calling for change but that wouldn’t have been the right decision – sometimes you make a change and have a kneejerk reaction.

That’s worked – they’re not out the woods yet but their recent away form shows massive signs of improvement so I think he’s done a good job.

Who are the ones to watch?

Osborne is one of those who you might not notice until he’s gone – he’s not a stand-out player but more one who just controls midfield.

Christian Doidge started the season well and scored goals. But they’ve dried up a little bit now – he was plying his trade as a lone front man to start with though. Since the recent improvement though he’s got back into it and has had more players alongside him. He scored last weekend in the cup and he’ll get goals with the service.

They’ve also got a couple of flair players too with Keanu Marsh-Brown and Reece Brown – the latter is on loan from Birmingham City. They’ve got an attacking line-up at the moment. 

Drissa Traore is the string puller who operates in front of the back five – he’s worked with Cooper before at Swindon Town and he makes them a solid side.  

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