Forest Green Rovers head coach Rob Edwards is confident that his team will return to winning ways, despite being winless in their last seven games in League Two.
Rovers travel to Colchester United in a televised clash this evening (Monday, March 21), looking to stretch their lead at the top of the table to eight points.
“We certainly feel like we’re due a win,” said Edwards. “But that only comes with a performance, so we have to keep focusing on that.
“Yes, we’re having a rough patch in terms of results, but I’d say half of those last seven performances have been acceptable and pleasing, but we couldn’t find the win.
“We’ve worked hard this week looking at ourselves. We’re aware of the opposition and what they might do, but a lot of teams do change against us, so it really is about us.”
Forest Green went 19 games unbeaten between October and February, but are without a win since February 8.
Edwards believes that for the first this season, his players showed nerves and felt the pressure in their most recent game – a 1-1 draw vs Leyton Orient – and the Rovers boss is keen to remind his players that they should be embracing their position at the top of the table.
“I don’t want us to fear anything,” he said. “I want us to be brave and to play our way. I want to see a team on Monday night playing our way. It’ll be tricky, because there’ll be a team up against us trying to stop us playing.
“We talk a lot about being brave and playing our way, but last Tuesday, I felt it looked as though we were feeling a bit of pressure, probably for the first time. I don’t want us feeling like that. Pressure is for those at the opposite end of the table, when you’re fighting to stay in the league. We have to embrace the position we’re in.”
Rovers beat 20th-placed Colchester 2-0 in the reverse fixture in January, thanks to goals from Jamille Matt and Josh March. The scoreline didn’t tell the whole story, with Forest Green goalkeeper Luke McGee providing a man of the match performance, and defender Jordan Moore-Taylor clearing a late Luke Hannant effort off the line.
Colchester’s top scorer, Freddie Sears, formerly of West Ham United, missed that January clash through injury, but Edwards knows the threat the 10-goal striker poses.
“We’re aware of his threats, especially the way he gets in-behind with a quick turnover,” admitted Edwards. “He’s scored a few of his goals like that. He’s sharp and experienced. We’re aware of his threats, just like we were when we played against them a month or two ago.”
The U’s sacked manager Hayden Mullins just a week after that defeat at The New Lawn, and since interim boss Wayne Brown has taken over, Colchester have only lost five of their last 13 games. They find themselves 11th in the form table over the last six games.
“They have good players all over the pitch,” said Edwards. “They have pace and size at the top end of the pitch. They have experience and physicality in the middle with (Cole) Skuse, (Brendan) Wiredu, and (Luke) Chambers at the back. (Tom) Eastman is back now, so they look a threat at set-pieces. They have good players and it’s easy to see why they haven’t been easy to beat in recent times. It’s a difficult challenge for us.”
Rovers will once again be without defenders Udoka Godwin-Malife and Dom Bernard. Godwin-Malife is serving the final game of his two-match suspension following his red card in the defeat to Bradford City, and Bernard hasn’t fully recovered from an ankle injury sustained in the draw at Salford City on March 6.
It means that Dan Sweeney, Moore-Taylor and Baily Cargill are set to make up the back three in Edwards’ 3-4-1-2 system.
Kick-off at the Jobserve Community Stadium is at 19:45, with the fixture being shown on Sky Sports Main Event.