Forest Green and Cheltenham played out a dull and cagey 0-0 draw in the second instalment of this season’s Gloucestershire derby.
Like most derby days, it was a tight and tense affair. Neither side managed to get any real foothold in the game and the worsening conditions at the Innocent New Lawn hampered the flow of the contest.
Despite it certainly not being a classic affair, this derby still generated some talking points.
Cheltenham missed Ben Tozer’s throws:
Prior to the Manchester City match, it’s fair to say that only League Two fans knew about the threat that Ben Tozer’s long throw-ins can cause.
With Alfie May scoring against the Premier League giants in the FA Cup from one of those exact throws, the footballing world woke up to the danger they pose.
More importantly however, it seemed as though Forest Green and Mark Cooper were certainly aware of the risk of conceding a throw-in near their own box.
It appeared that the advertising hoardings had been moved closer, where they were able to, and where they were not moveable the pitch covers had coincidentally been placed.
This meant there was far less space when players took throw ins and practically nullified Tozer’s long throw threat as there wasn’t enough space to build a run up.
Rovers boss Cooper denied that this had been intentional and insisted it was down to the grounds people.
He said: “You’re asking the wrong person, that’s the grounds man’s department, not mine. The covers have been on to try and protect the pitch and it’s a big effort to get those covers off.
“We’re at home, we’re not going to make it like coming to Wembley for other teams.”
No one will know for sure if it was a tactical move by Rovers or not. All that can be said is when Tozer did get the opportunity to launch a long throw in, he chose to play it short.
Just had it pointed out that the advertising hoardings on this near side have been moved a bit closer to the pitch than usual. A tactic to try and stop the effectiveness of Tozer’s long-throws? #FGRFC #CTFC pic.twitter.com/irnJyMouWq— Laurie (@lauriemartin263) January 30, 2021
Cheltenham look good off the ball:
With Michael Duff screaming orders for his team to press throughout the entire match, it is no wonder that his side look positive out of possession.
From back to front, it was clear from the off that Cheltenham wanted to make life difficult for Forest Green when they had hold of the ball.
A side that is often comfortable in possession was made to work hard due to the Robins’ desire to win every ball back.
Most noticeably for Cheltenham, Chris Clements always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to apply the press that Duff sought after.
Rovers were perhaps unlucky with some decisions:
With it being derby day, it is often a given that the referee will be a busy man and with that he must be ready to come under scrutiny.
Sadly, the major talking points after the game were due to contentious decisions that were made by the officials.
Rovers’ midfielder Ebou Adams was shown a second yellow card and sent off on 69 minutes, something that Cooper bemoaned.
He said: “Having had the benefit of seeing it again, Ebou’s got there, slipped, cleared the ball and their lads dangled his foot. If that’s a yellow card then we might as well all pack up and go home.
“There’s no foul there at all. I think the referee realises he’s made a bit of a mistake having spoken to him after the game.”
Baily Cargill is starting to show his worth:
Rovers needed to fill the void that Liam Kitching left when he signed for Barnsley earlier in the transfer window and Baily Cargill was chosen to do that.
The Cheltenham match marked Cargill’s fourth start at his new club and, like any new player, he needed time to settle into his surroundings.
What he showcased on Saturday afternoon was a performance that would please any Forest Green fan.
He showed tenacity, energy and the range of passing that he displayed was of excellent quality – proving exactly why he was brought in by Cooper.
The innocent New Lawn is open to the elements:
Any football stadium up and down the country has difficulties dealing with abhorrent weather conditions and the innocent New Lawn, despite its beautiful surroundings, is no different.
With it being situated on the top of a hill and no large stands to protect the onslaught of the worsening conditions, it made for a difficult contest on Saturday.
A temperature of two degrees Celsius, a wind speed of 36 miles-per-hour and a near constant barrage of drizzle during the derby, meant players felt the full force of Nailsworth’s challenging climate.
This was arguably the deciding factor behind the match being what can only be described as a slow burner, and that’s putting it diplomatically.