Nigel Adkins’ Tranmere Rovers travel to Forest Green this Saturday looking to add on to the three points they claimed in last weekend’s 4-0 thrashing of league leaders Stockport County. 

The centre-halves were on fire that afternoon as Tom Davies opened the scoring before Jordan Turnbull netted a brace. Connor Jennings added the fourth with an exquisite Rob Apter assist. 

In my eyes, striker Harvey Saunders had a fantastic week as despite not scoring in the home defeat to Morecambe or in the game against Stockport, he continued to rush both defences into making mistakes and this should have been enough to pick up all six points. 

However, it will be interesting to see if he starts at FGR as Luke Norris came back from injury to play against Doncaster Rovers in a behind closed doors friendly in midweek. Having Norris back comes as a relief to all TRFC fans, knowing what he is capable of despite his red flag injury record.

FGR, now managed by Steve Cotterill, are positioned inside the League Two drop zone and are a wide 17 points away from The Whites, Adkins’ side steering away from their disastrous early season form. 

Ahead of the game, I spoke to FGR’s BBC Gloucestershire summariser Josh Evans.

Hi Josh, when did you become a reporter for Forest Green Rovers? What was your first experience of the club like?

I’ve reported on the club for just over 18 months now but was not a supporter of the club taking the role. The club is welcoming and has a good feel to it. However, results on the pitch have dampened spirits in the past 12 months. 

What have been some of your best and worst moments as a FGR reporter?

Beating a strong Sheffield Wednesday side was a brilliant day in a poor season. Back-to-back wins, including a win over local rivals Cheltenham Town, was also a highlight. Being relegated from League One was a low point albeit inevitable. 

You’re a FGR summariser for BBC Gloucestershire. Could you tell us about your role and when that started?

I’m a student at the University of Gloucestershire and started by taking on the role as Gloucestershire Live reporter for the club. It soon became an option to summarise with the club on BBC local radio – an opportunity I took and have had ever since. 

FGR play their home games at The New Lawn, a venue which has a capacity of 5,141. However, there’s a new stadium on the horizon which will be the world’s first ground made out of timber. What’s the current update on that move and how important do you think it will be for the club?

It’s still moving in a positive direction. It’s expected that the training ground will be ready for next season and the Eco Park should follow all being well. 

FGR were relegated from League One last season and are again placed in the relegation zone, staring another era of National League football in the face. What has been going on since Rob Edwards guided the team to promotion into the third tier two years ago?

There’s been significant change in senior roles at the club since Rob Edwards took them up to League One. They haven’t quite got the managerial post correct and have not recruited in a way that their budget offers. 

How disastrous would relegation be? FGR are 23rd with 23 points whilst Grimsby Town are 22nd with 29 points thus there is a lot, still, to be fought for.

The National League would be a disaster given the position they were in not too long ago. Back-to-back relegations are never something a club wants to happen. Dale Vince continues to back the club with cash flow which means that FGR would be hot favourites to go up. 

Dale Vince has been loved by FGR fans since he became majority shareholder in 2010 but it all has all been majorly successful. What are your, and the fans, thoughts on the 62-year-old owner of EcoTricity now the club is struggling?

I think what fans would say is they wouldn’t be where they are without Vince. He’s not someone who loves football by any means but there’s no suggestion you have to when you’re the owner – it’s just a case of getting individuals in positions that will benefit the club. Fans will be expecting that right now with Steve Cotterill being an important move. 

It was very important to get away from the issues that Troy Deeney had at the club. What were your thoughts on his time at FGR as both a player and in the hot seat?

You could tell he had that bit of star quality whilst a player but without making a huge impact. His managerial term of six matches was short but did have an impact in terms of style of play. They were unfortunate not to get more in some games but his comments post-Harrogate matched with the four match touchline ban was too much for Vince to take. 

Steve Cotterill, formerly of Birmingham City and Shrewsbury Town was appointed in late January and on February 13th put an end to a run of 15 games without a win by beating Barrow 2-1. What are your thoughts on him and his playing style, which seems to be a 3412 formation, so far?

He’s competitive and a winner. He wouldn’t have taken the role if he didn’t feel he could keep the club up but it will be tough. Six points adrift but with some tough games towards the end of the campaign, the next five or so will be crucial. 

On February 16th there were many changes made at the club as the CEO, the DOF and many others high up at the club departed. Is that a positive as the club can now look towards the future with a new, fresh regime?

I think there were going to be changes, but maybe not to that extent as expected. It’s tough to see how a new regime will work in such a tough period so I’d expect Cotterill to have significant say until the end of the season. 

It is safe to say that there is a good bit of attacking quality in the current squad as both Matt Stevens and Kyle McAllister have eleven goal involvements this campaign. Could you talk to us about how FGR looks at the top end of the pitch?

Rovers are guilty of not scoring enough goals, their performing below their xG and conceding more than they should – which understandably explains the league position. Stevens and Christian Doidge will be important, McAllister’s technical ability is noticeable but it’s required more than ever now. 

The recent signing of former Derby defender Richard Keogh should tighten up the team’s backline. That was a good bit of recruitment wasn’t it?

It looks like it, yes. 37-years-old but a wealth of experience. He’s had an impact already with his leadership skills as well as setting high standards. He communicates well with players around him, it’s now a case of making sure Rovers come out on top in tight games. They had that resolve away at Barrow, that’s a platform to build on. 

The game against Tranmere in mid November resulted in a 3-0 victory for The Whites as an own goal from Tyrese Omotoye opened the scoring in the eighth minute before Kristian Dennis and Robbie Apter netted after the break. What were your thoughts on that fixture?

I wasn’t at the away fixture but was told it was one of Forest Green’s more concerning performances. Tranmere have that quality in wide areas and set pieces to cause Forest Green issues. It’s important to take those chances on Saturday when they come. 

There have been a few recent links between the two clubs, we could delve further back and discuss Manny Monthe and James Norwood! However, FGR replaced Luke McGee with Ross Doohan in a somewhat mad move last season. What were your thoughts on that and the departure of midfielder Regan Hendry?

Doohan didn’t have the Forest Green career he would’ve hoped for, he’s already departed for Aberdeen. There was a feeling that Luke McGee needed to be replaced and therefore a new goalkeeper needed to be searched for – a decision that ultimately doesn’t look a positive one. Hendry was a good performer for Forest Green, it was a case of his contract was expiring and Duncan Ferguson was not keen to keep on any players with contracts coming to an end. 

Finally, what are your thoughts on Nigel Adkins’ Whites? Tranmere will be looking to add to their 4-0 victory against league leaders Stockport County when they travel to Nailsworth.

They’ve had their worries this season but seem to have ensured they won’t have any relegation fears this season with a few good results. They’re direct and aggressive, something Forest Green usually has a problem with. Tranmere will come with confidence and it won’t be an easy task whatsoever.

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