FOREST GREEN ROVERS v WOKING
12:00am, Thu 20th Mar 2008
FOREST GREEN ROVERS v WOKING (NB Kick-off time!)
3pm on Friday 21 March 2008
The first of our Easter weekend fixtures sees us travel down to ?the club on the hill? for a three o?clock fixture on Good Friday. Visiting Forest Green is always one of the nicer trips but this season the Cards can?t expect Rovers? traditional generosity when it comes to the points! Rovers have slipped a bit recently and now have a lot to do to get back in the play-off race but will still be a tough proposition.
Frank Gray?s side will be feeling mixed emotions after Tuesday night?s thrilling but exhausting Setanta Shield semi-final loss on penalties to the Shots. It was an inspiring performance in many ways but we lost again! We now need to concentrate on getting some league points in order to remove any lingering fear of relegation, however slight the prospect.
Given Tuesday night?s exertions and the prospect of another tough game at home to Salisbury on Monday, it wouldn?t be a surprise to see Frank make a few changes, starting with a few players like Adam Green and Paul Lorraine (if fit) who either didn?t play on Tuesday or, like Liam Marum and Gez Sole, came on as substitutes.
Jim Harvey joined Rovers in September 2006 when they had failed to register a win in their first eleven games, but he steered them to safety and got them playing some attractive football too. He was rewarded last summer with a contract extension to 2010. Harvey lost defender Kevin Nicholson to Torquay United in the close season and player-coach Paul Wanless (who had a loan spell with us when he was at Cambridge United) also left the club. But Harvey has added several new faces, not least that of Stuart Fleetwood, a 21 year-old striker who was previously with Hereford United and Cardiff City and who has blossomed at Rovers, becoming the BSP?s top scorer. Fleetwood seemed destined to leave for a Championship club in the transfer window for a very sizeable transfer fee but turned down the offer of a ?200,000 move to Crewe. Another arrival was Anthony Tonkin, an experienced League defender with Yeovil, Crewe and Stockport; Chris Davies, a 21 year-old striker, currently at Loughborough University but who netted 40 goals last season for Hellenic League Shortwood Town; Jonathan Smith, a central defender from Harvey?s former club, Morecambe, but who also turned out for Accrington Stanley in the Conference; reserve keeper Terry Burton, formerly with the Army and Wantage Town; and youth team graduate Lorcan Sheehan, an 18 year-old midfielder. Among those re-signing were experienced campaigners Danny Carey-Bertram, ex-Card Jamie Pitman, who is also Assistant Manager, Les Afful and the former Morecambe duo of John Hardiker and Adriano Rigoglioso. Chris Giles, who had a loan spell at Kingfield, has also been part of the Rovers? line-up.
A transfer window departure was that of striker Mark Beesley, sold to Cambridge United for an undisclosed fee. Beesley and his strike partner, Stuart Fleetwood, had scored 43 goals between this season prior to his departure. Harvey has brought in Ishmael Welsh, a 21 year-old striker, on loan from Yeovil; Welsh has already had a spell at Torquay this season.
SEASON SO FAR
Rovers sit in 8th place in the table, seven points off the play-off places, having suffered the disappointment of being beaten 2-1 at home by York City on Tuesday night. In the league their home record reads won 9, drawn 5, lost 5. In the FA Cup Rovers beat Eastleigh 4-1 before gaining a superb 3-0 away win at Rotherham in a First Round tie, having drawn 2-2 at home. They were unlucky to lose narrowly away to Swindon, 3-2, in the Second Round. In the Trophy, Rovers beat Sutton United away in the first round but lost 2-1 at Stafford Rangers in round two. We knocked them out of the Setanta Shield, of course!
Forest Green Rovers 2 Woking 3
Woking 3 Forest Green Rovers 3
We had two eventful encounters with Rovers last season. The first, at the beginning of September, saw the Cards pick up their first away win of the season, with loan signing Jon Nurse again prominent. He bagged the first goal and Craig McAllister the second to give the Cards a comfortable 2-0 lead approaching half-time but a corner deflected into the net by Steve Evans gave Rovers heart and, shortly after the break, Alex Meechan hit a screamer from 30 yards to level the scores. With eight minutes remaining a ball lobbed forward resulted in Jon Nurse, a defender and the keeper all colliding some 35 yards from goal. The ball fell to Craig McAllister, who made no mistake to secure a 3-2 win.
The return fixture in mid-April was an even more extraordinary affair. After two fine wins under the temporary management team of Graham Baker and Neil Smith had just about guaranteed safety, the Cards found themselves 3-0 down at half-time to a rampant Rovers side, who were even more desperately in need of points. With only ten minutes to go the Cards at last managed to force what looked like a mere consolation goal from Craig McAllister, but four minutes later Tom Hutchinson swivelled in the box to crash home a second. With the Leslie Gosden Stand rocking, Giuseppe Sole, in injury time, lined up a free-kick all of 35 yards out. There seemed no way he could score from that distance and angle, but the keeper moved off his line and the ball tore past him for an astonishing equaliser.
Woking 1 Forest Green Rovers 1
Carl Gibbs?s debut seemed to spark a livelier display from the Cards in early September. Giuseppe Sole gave Woking the lead from the penalty spot in the second half after Goma Lambu had been flattened, but, with six minutes to go, Paul Lorraine was adjudged to have fouled Paul Stonehouse in the box and Stuart Fleetwood?s penalty kick evened the scores.
Woking 1 Forest Green Rovers 0
Setanta Shield, 5th Round
In a televised encounter in early February the Cards edged through against Rovers in a Setanta tie thanks to a Chris Giles own goal.
The New Lawn
Tel: 01453 834860
by coach ? why not take it easy and go on the Supporters? Club coach? It leaves Kingfield at 11.00am and the cost is ?13 for members and ?16 for non-members. Ring the Club Shop (01483 772470) to book a place.
by car ? head for the M4 and at junction 15 take the A419, signposted for Cirencester/Swindon. Follow this road for some 15 miles until you reach the junction with the A417. Follow the signs for Stroud and then the A46 towards Bath as far as Nailsworth. In the centre of Nailsworth, just after the Clock Tower, take the road signposted Forest Green and Nympsfield. The New Lawn is up the steep hill, some 200 yards further on from the old ground. According to the AA Route Planner, the journey from Woking should take just over two hours.
by train ? the nearest station is Stroud, some four or five miles away, but a trip from Woking would involve changes at Basingstoke, Reading and Swindon, including a bus replacement service. You?d have to be very brave to try it!
OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
? parking ? there is parking for 250+ cars near the ground plus on-street parking nearby
Come on, you Cards!