Forest Green Rovers – meeting the opposition.
Tranmere, the best defensive side in League Two, face Forest Green Rovers, the best attacking side in the division on Saturday afternoon at Prenton Park in a top of the table clash.
The two clubs have grown a bit of a relative rivalry in recent years, stemming from fighting for promotion in the National League which culminated in the 2018 Play-Off final where Forest Green would win 3-1.
Ahead of this weekend’s encounter, I spoke to Green Army supporter Alfie Ryan who gave his thoughts on the visitors this season amongst his thoughts on controversial owner Dale Vince and much more.
What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now as we enter the second half of the campaign?
I think going into the season the realistic expectation from most FGR fans was to be up and around the top 7 again, continuing to fight for promotion. However after a brilliant start I genuinely think that even if we didn’t win the league, we would still be up in the top 3.
What are your thoughts on those in charge at Forest Green? Rob Edwards is the manager having been appointed in late May 2021 and Dale Vince is the, somewhat controversial, owner.
I think Rob Edwards has really spurred fans on to believe that maybe this is the year that we get promoted, I’ll be completely honest I was sceptical when he was first appointed as he had a lack of experience within the professional club leagues, obviously he had a role within the England set up. Realistically though he’s been great, there’s a much greater feeling of unity at the club now.
As for Richie Kyle, Rob’s assistant manager. He’s been great too; we’ve not had a real chance to connect with an assistant manager since Scott Lindsey left us a few years ago, Richie is a very nice bloke who’s got experience with being an assistant manager for the Canada women’s team.
Dale Vince as you well know is deemed to be “controversial”, but the “maverick owner” has got a great vision for the club, and it is seriously paying off.
Who would you say are the visitors danger men and who do you see as the stand out hosting players?
I think for us, all of our players this season could well be considered “danger men” but if I had to highlight a few of them, both of the front men in Jamille Matt and Matty Stevens, the pair have scored 31 goals already this season combined. Another few danger men are the wingbacks Nicky Cadden and Kane Wilson, obviously most of the Tranmere fans will remember Kane, who has got 9 assists this season already, whilst Nicky Cadden, signed from Greenock Morton, has 6 assists so far this season. Defensively we’ve been solid, with Luke Mcgee in goal, Luke has the most clean sheets in the league with 12. Just ahead of Tranmere keeper Ross Doohan. I understand that Tranmere’s danger men are Peter Clarke, Ross Doohan and Charlie Jolley .
The last time the two sides met was 25th September as Calum MacDonald was sent off late in a goalless draw. How would you describe the course of that particular ninety minutes?
Yeah, the 0-0 draw back in September, wow that feels a while ago. In terms of describing the the 90 mins, in reality there wasn’t a great deal to describe apart from it being an end to end game
How do you see the upcoming fixture panning out, score prediction etc, and do you believe it will pose different questions than the previous meeting did?
I can possibly see the game being a boring draw, or completely action packed as we’re scoring for fun and you’re defensively very good, best home team vs best away team. The game speaks for itself, therefore either 0-0 or 2-1 to us.
What starting eleven do you think Rob Edwards will select and how would you describe his playing style?
I’d say the starting XI on saturday will be a 3-4-1-2 as usual, with Luke Mcgee in goal, back three of Baily Cargill, Jordan Moore Taylor and Udoka Godwin-Malife, the midfield 4 will consist of Kane Wilson, Ben Stevenson, Regan Hendry and Nicky Cadden, just in behind the two strikers will be Jack Aitchison, and then the front two of Jamille Matt and Matty Stevens. To discuss Rob’s style of play, it’s particularly exciting. Obviously the goal stats speak for themselves, it’s quite a possessive style of play.
Thinking of the previous encounters between the two sides, what games/moments stand out as being memorable for you?
Well, it would go without saying that fixtures between Tranmere and FGR have always been exciting, and the only answer I can genuinely give you is the VNL play off final in which we won 3-1 at Wembley.
As we’re now halfway into the January transfer window, who would you like The Green to sign and would you say there are any particular positions that need to be strengthened? Have any outgoings/incomings been completed so far?
So yeah, Dale Vince has already stated that we would not be bringing anyone in as long as no one went out, we’ve loaned young Jack Evans to AFC Fylde as he simply could not get near the team with the level of quality. I think we’ve got a pretty solid setup and don’t really need to strengthen any particular area, if we were to sign anyone, ideally a back up for Nicky Cadden at Left Midfield. Also potentially another midfielder just in case Ebou Adams did leave (as rumoured with Blackpool), however he is unlikely to leave due to still being with Gambia at AFCON.