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Mark Cooper relieved with Forest Green win after overcoming late Harrogate Town scare

Forest Green Rovers head coach Mark Cooper was relieved that his promotion-chasing side managed to survive a late scare to beat Harrogate Town 2-1 at the Innocent New Lawn on Saturday.

Rovers welcomed Simon Weaver’s Harrogate to Nailsworth on Saturday afternoon in a bid to climb up to first place in League Two.

Goals from Chris Stokes and Kane Wilson put Forest Green in command before a late goal from Jay Williams in the 91st minute almost saw Rovers’ hopes crash.

Cooper admitted his side should have buried their opportunities earlier on in the encounter.

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“I thought we played well for 80-odd minutes and 2-0 is a funny scoreline, we should have had the game wrapped up really and put it to the bag but we didn’t and left the back door open a little bit but we managed to get it done in the end.”

It looked like League Two leaders and local rivals, Cheltenham Town were going to surrender their position at the summit of the League Two table in their clash against Exeter City, which would have allowed Forest Green to mount a challenge to dislodge the table-toppers.

Robins manager, Michael Duff played his cards right in the latter stages of the game as substitute, Andy Williams would eventually score the winner in the 87th minute to cement Cheltenham’s lead at the top of the league standings.

Forest Green, however managed to secure the victory in the end and now occupy third place, level on points as Cambridge United in second.

“After the Stevenage game, we’ve bounced back from with another seven points in three games, should have been nine so we keep bouncing back and it’s important.”

With an impressive run of form in the campaign thus far, automatic promotion to League One could be on the horizon for the first time ever in the club’s history.

But with that comes demand and Cooper has already seen the pressure mounting on the players.

“That’s on their mind, I feel the anxiousness from them that they’re so desperate to make sure we win that sometimes that weakens them and stops them finding a pass and just booting the ball anywhere and you know it’s going to come back in your box. It’s lesson focus and something that we’ll speak about,” said the 52-year-old.

“We have to keep playing our football to make sure that we just don’t get camped in our box with 30 seconds to go. 

“I’m pleased with the effort, the performance, two good goals but I can feel the pressure to the players because they’re so desperate to win and everybody keeps telling them what’s at stake and it’s impossible for them to not feel that pressure and that will do them good today, getting over the line.”

With 12 games left for the remainder of the 2020/21 season, Rovers have a significant game at the Abbey Stadium next Saturday as they face second placed, Cambridge United. Should Cooper’s team come away with three points, they will distance themselves from the U’s and edge closer to their rivals, Cheltenham.

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