Forest Green Rovers travel to the Breyer Group Stadium as they face Leyton Orient on Tuesday night, but away from the training ground and the football pitch Parklife Sport have put their own spin on the game, moving to FIFA 22 to predict the outcome of the game.
With the virtual cameras all set and the screen recorder ready for action, the attention turned to the TV. The outcome was taken out of Rob Edwards’ hands and Rovers’ fate was placed under the unpredictable watch of electronic simulation.
Forest Green, as the real life table would predict, started the strongest and found themselves a goal up early on. After turning over the ball, the club’s top scorer in League Two, Jamille Matt, slid through Jack Aitchison, before the attacking midfielder struck low and hard past Lawrence Vigouroux.
The Chilean youth international might have a few words to say to EA after his virtual self wasn’t covered in glory. The shot squirmed its way underneath his body before Aitchison ran to celebrate in front of the fake crowd.
Rovers fans will hope that their 290 mile round trip is rewarded with a first half as good as this one. Edwards side were rampant in the attacking phase, racking up seven shots before half time, Vigouroux’s 66-rated player making up for his earlier mistake.
Spectators will also be hoping that the weather doesn’t copy the FIFA prediction, with a drizzly night in London being gameplay forecasted. It was the Orient players that responded best to the managers coding at half time though.
Just three minutes after the break Darren Pratley took the ball from Ebou Adams and found surprise inclusion Ruel Sotiriou who blasted in the equaliser.
Despite going behind, Forest Green responded like a team that was top of the league. They continued to pepper the Orient goal. The away side managed to accumulate a huge 4.4 xG, nearly double the 1.55 that they have averaged so far this season.
They nearly didn’t get the reward for the their huge xG advantage though, it took until the 87th minute before Rovers managed to regain the lead they had arguably deserved for their hard work.
It was with the final of the 11 shots they took (below the real life average of 14.4) that Matty Stevens finished off to bring three points to the virtual New Lawn. Matt, who has four assists already this term, rounded off another good day for him with a second assist.
It was Matt’s timed ball that found Stevens to slot home at the near post.
As previously stated, Rovers massively underperformed their XG on the day, although this isn’t uncommon for a FIFA 22 match. Edwards will be hopeful that when he has more control over his players, they can be more clinical in front of the real life goal.
Elsewhere, if we scale up the passes by six (to match the 90 minute real life time) then Rovers made an impressive 612 completed passes but still kept marginally less possession. They average 56% this season but are yet to make over 600 passes in a game.
Rovers can expect a “very well organised unit” when they travel to London tomorrow according to Edwards, but if FIFA 22 is anything to go by (it probably isn’t) then Rovers are in for a wave of consistent chances.