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Forest Green Rovers manager Rob Edwards reacts to Greens’ latest League Two win

Rob Edwards says the competition for places in his Forest Green Rovers side is playing a big part in their League Two title challenge after they beat Carlisle United 3-0.

The Nailsworth club extended their league unbeaten run to 14 games and kept a fourth clean sheet in their last five games.

An own goal from Morgan Feeney opened the scoring, with Matty Stevens and Jamille Matt adding to their tallies in the second half.

The strikers are both over the 15-goal mark already, and Edwards appreciates how important the duo are for Rovers’ title charge.

He said: “It’s amazing what they’re doing, but it’s not just the goals, it’s the work rate as well. They give us everything and they were different class today.

“[Jamille Matt] is a top person first and foremost and that’s what we’re about. Strikers are there to put the ball in the back of the net and he’s doing that.

“It’s down to his attitude and it’s a great fit for him here. Everyone values him, the staff, the fans and the lads. He’s got a desire to improve and be better and he wants to achieve things now.

“He’s one of the first in the gym every day and I thought his all-round performance today was excellent.

“We trust in what we’ve got and they’ve done the business so far. Matty [Stevens] is getting the reward that his hard work deserves.”

Stevens also signed a new contract this week to extend his stay at The New Lawn.

Jake Young and Jack Aitchison both assisted goals, but Edwards says the fact that Young has only started two games in the last seven and that Aitchison had to come off the bench shows the competition for places.

“We try and have honest conversations with all the boys. I don’t expect them to like it if they’re not playing, but that’s football. You need competition in the squad and we’ve got that at the moment.

“That’s what he [Young] brings, he’s got that running power. He can travel really well with the ball and we keep telling him to believe in himself and back himself. The assist was a really good moment for him today.

“He [Aitchison] had covid and a bit of a period out and came straight back into the team. He’s given everything in the four games and provided a lot of energy and a lot of quality.”

Rovers have only conceded one goal in their five games in 2022 so far and have the joint-second best defensive record in League Two.

On the performances of the backline and goalkeeper Luke McGee, who is ever-present this season, Edwards said: “It [the clean sheet] gives you a foundation if you’re not firing or if the game’s tight, so it’s something that’s really important. 0s and 1s get you points and that’s proving to be the case.”

Opponents Carlisle have had a slight upturn in form since Keith Millen was appointed as manager, but Edwards knew how to exploit them.

He said: “We knew they were going to press and leave spaces and we thought Youngy [Jake Young] and Kane [Wilson] could get a bit of an overload.

“All the goals were great and I thought the lads made some really good decisions today.”

Forest Green now travel to second-placed Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, a club who they’ve had plenty of battles with recent years.

They met in the League Two play-offs in 2019, with the club from The Wirral winning 2-1 on aggregate on their way to promotion.

The pair shared a win apiece last season and both finished in the play-offs once again, both losing in the semi-finals.

Edwards said: “People have told me about the rivalry. It was a really good game at home, it was 0-0 but both teams were slugging it out and I expect it to be the same next week.

“We look forward to having a really good week now and preparing for Tranmere.”

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