Mark Cooper’s side made it six games unbeaten in The National League with goals from Charlie Clough, Ethan Pinnock and Christian Doidge securing a comfortable away victory over North Ferriby.
What went well? Was there room for improvement? Here are 5 things we learned from Saturday’s match.
Defence is the best form of attack
The most notable stat to come out of the game for Forest Green was that it was their fifth consecutive clean sheet. It would have been understandable for the defence to switch off in what was a comfortable game, at times, on Saturday afternoon. However, when called upon they delivered.
Rovers have conceded the joint-fewest goals in The National League so far along with fellow title challengers Dagenham & Redbridge, and mid-table Boreham Wood. This is an incredible achievement, especially because Cooper hasn’t had a fixed backline or starting XI all season. Maintaining this defensive solidity throughout the campaign will give Rovers a huge advantage in the battle to achieve promotion, with current champions Cheltenham Town retuning to League Two having conceded the fewest amount of goals last season.
Ethan Pinnock could be one of the signings of the season
Despite only joining Rovers from Dulwich Hamlet this summer, the highly rated defender already looks like he could be one of the signings of the season. A smart finish from Pinnock broke the deadlock just before half-time when it looked like Rovers were beginning to struggle against an organised defence. He maintained a high level of performance throughout the remainder of the contest, by making vital blocks and interceptions throughout the second-half, which contributed to him being awarded man of the match.
The Forest Green defence has been one of the main reasons for their success so far this campaign. Ethan Pinnock looks like a vital cog in this strong backline, and the missing piece in the jigsaw that Rovers needed in previous seasons where they have narrowly missed out on promotion.
43| North Ferriby United 0-1 Forest Green pic.twitter.com/SUeMUYlskR
— Forest Green Rovers (@FGRFC_Official) 8 October 2016
Murphy and Moore, a partnership worthy of playing in the Football League?
As well as defensive solidity, Rhys Murphy and Kieffer Moore’s strike partnership could be an integral part of a promotion challenge this season. Throughout the contest both players looked lively whilst creating a hatful of chances for themselves, each other and teammates. Having scored ten goals between them so far this season, Murphy and Moore are providing chemistry, leadership and a conversion rate in front of goal that many Football League sides would wish to have at their disposal right now. FGR fans will hope the best is yet to come from this duo.
Manager Mark Cooper is a hard man to please
“Horrible game… Didn’t enjoy it… No tempo… Boring,” were just some of the phrases Cooper used in his post-match interview against North Ferriby. Some may question this style of management, but others will say it’s the right approach. This was a comfortable victory, not a hard-fought one, so Cooper played down the performance to ensure his players don’t get ahead of themselves. This approach is beneficial as it makes clear to his players that there is always room for improvement. It will be interesting to see whether Cooper maintains this approach when pressure builds as the season goes on.
Next week’s FA Cup tie is crucial for momentum
Rovers will hold onto top spot in The National League as clubs up and down the country prepare for the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round. There are bound to be changes, with some players being rested, however this is a good opportunity to maintain momentum against 13th place Sutton United.
With only six points separating the top seven teams in the National League, it’s essential for Forest Green to maintain their current winning mentality as a dip in form could be costly with the top of the table being so tight. Victory next weekend will increase morale even further around the club, whilst helping raise the profile of Forest Green, as Mark Cooper’s men would enter the First Round draw of the famous FA Cup. This could result in a tie against a big Football League side, and will help maintain the feel-good factor around the club.