Tag Archives: Forest Green Rovers

Subconsciously Craving Misery (AFC Wimbledon 1 Forest Green Rovers 1)

Aww crap. That wasn’t much fun, was it? Although we didn’t lose the game, dropping two points was particularly hard to take. Ultimately the visitors lack of ambition and a moment of magic in an otherwise disjointed performance was enough to ensure the Dons took a single point and ensure the unbeaten home record continues into October. Although to be honest that’s ringing pretty hollow right now – this was nothing more than pure frustration in the rain. 

Not that I had any worries we would take anything other than victory from this game after a dominant first five minutes in which the Dons forced five corners and looked to be carrying off from where they left off before the final whistle so rudely interrupted them on Wednesday night. Then something happened that wasn’t in the script, in fact it was so unexpectedly surreal it caused me to laugh out loud. Forest Green scored – and despite the Dons having a couple of chances to clear it will go down as a pretty well taken finish by Ben Watson. Still, with eighty-five minutes of the game remaining, it seemed more likely than not that the Dons would come back and win the game comfortably. 

Yet Wimbledon lost something from that moment on, as if infected by fear, and the younger players in particular suffered greatly because of this. Which for this Dons side is a big, big problem – as even our more experienced players are on the young side, and lead to pretty much half the team having an off day. Whenever they looked like creating danger for their opponents, the move broke down. Ryan Jackson in particular was having a frustrating afternoon, he saw plenty of the ball but his opposing full back was getting the better of him. Jolley was suffering similarly on the other flank, he didn’t seem to be floating past his man like we know he can. Under these circumstances, our midfield needed to stand up and be counted, instead it just sort of vanished. Moore, Wellard (especially Wellard) and even Gregory seemed as if their only purpose in the game was to recycle possession back to Forest Green. The Dons most potent force, Danny Kedwell, was forced to battle for scraps on the half way line, with no option but to win flick ons that ultimately went to no-one. 

Still, surely given a good half time talking to the lads would come back out and take the game? It only took a couple of minutes play in the second half to realise there would be no immediate return to form. Steven Gregory was withdrawn for the more offensive Luke Moore – who was by far the outstanding Dons player despite only being on the field for forty-five minutes. Jon Main replaced the injured Jackson with half an hour to go, and Terry Brown finally tired of Ricky Wellard replacing him with Rashid Yussuff. Yet it still just wasn’t clicking, and ultimately it relied on individual skill rather than an intelligent team performance. With twenty minutes to go, Jolley found some space down the right, and although it looked as if the chance had passed him by as he brought the ball under control he managed to evade two Forest Green players before curling the ball with his left foot beyond keeper James Bittner and into the far corner. 

It seemed as though the goal would give the Dons the momentum to go on and win the game, and while they rode the crest of a wave for five minutes or so after the goal, ultimately they couldn’t keep it going to the final whistle. The best chance fell to Sammy Moore, after a fantastic run from the forward minded Yussuff saw him round several players, before unselfishly knocking the ball towards Moore with only the keeper to beat. It seemed either a powerful finish or guiding the ball either side of the keeper would be enough to give the Dons the points, yet Moore did neither, tamely sidefooting straight at Bittner. 

The Dons didn’t threaten after this. In fact, their performance in the last few minutes was nothing short of appalling. Passes were literally hit to no-one, there wasn’t enough urgency, and how I managed to get through injury time without tearing my hair out I’m not sure. For some reason I decided to stand in the open corner by the Tempest, taking a soaking, as if I was subconsciously craving misery. The Dons have turned on the style at times this season, but here it just wasn’t working. Much as I appreciate the philosophy of playing out from the back, when there are only seconds to go in injury time you have to put that to one side and get the ball forward as soon as possible. If Sebb Brown felt his kicking wasn’t going to be accurate then that’s fair enough, but I would much rather see him heaving one down field only for it to be headed clear than giving it to a full back (unfortunately I need to name and shame Andre here…) just to gift possession away. 

Results elsewhere meant the damage caused by these dropped points wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Second place still with Crawley three points ahead, and while we face an early season six pointer at Mansfield on Tuesday we know Crawley and Luton playing each other means at least one of them will be dropping points. With another tough looking away fixture at Wrexham on the horizon, we might find ourselves looking for gifts from elsewhere to ensure parity with our rivals, while we ride out this period of inconsistency – presuming of course our early season form wasn’t just a flash in the pan…

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Green Army

I’m starting to feel the hangover from our defeat to Workington is wearing off. I had no intention of going to Tooting on Monday after that (a good job really), in fact I found myself getting hooked on Football Manager 2010, something I’m sure the sponsors would love to hear as I now give them invaluable free advertising telling you about it. Not that its ridiculously better than any of the previous versions, but I have just downloaded a file some guy made using the editor, which extends the game down to level ten; including the Vase, SSC, etc… Naturally as a football geek, this has reignited my love of the game as I prepare to guide Cobham from CCL1 to Premier League glory…

Unfortunately it means I have little spare time for anything else. Including the blog, but to give it some balance, also including my wife… plus I have difficulty getting up in the morning meaning I roll in about fifteen minutes late every day, with the messages piling up for me and my boss steaming out of his ears and giving me the ‘no more Mr Nice Guy’ talk.

So for the sake of my career, as well as my reputation as AFC Wimbledon’s Premier Blog Writer, its time to take a step back and welcome our visitors for Saturday, Forest Green Rovers. Not much time seems to have passed since we pitched up in Nailsworth and came home with the points. On that day after a ridiculously exciting first half, the Dons stretched their legs in the second and our hosts couldn’t live with us, finishing with our biggest away win of the season.

For our visitors, I suppose their biggest away win go down as one of the two they have managed to win, and they now sit just inside the relegation zone fighting for their Conference survival. They seem to have turned a corner of late, working their way back into the scrap around the drop zone, and will be keen to keep their run of form going – as when you find yourself down at the bottom its hard to recover from a knock like this. Still, not a game you would expect us to lose, or one that we should drop points in at all if we hold any hopes of working our way into the playoff picture. Yet there seems to be a nasty lack of confidence developing in the squad at the moment, which could evolve into a rather nastier run of poor form. What should have been a routine home win has now turned into a potentially nervy encounter.

Fortunately we have some quality returning. I expect an overhaul of the midfield with Gregory, Poole and Hendry returning, and although its hard to call exactly who is going to miss out I feel we could have seen the last of Adjei for a few weeks.  Although our bag four looked paperweight last week that was largely down to our midfield not working hard enough, having said that I would expect Lorraine to come back into the starting line-up. Plus there is a strong possibly Jamie Pullen back in place of Sebb Brown to give them further confidence behind them.

Whatever team takes the field tomorrow, a victory is needed – the squad, in fact the whole club needs a lift right now after a tough couple of weeks. With some massive games on the horizon, including trips to Luton and Oxford within four days of each other, those extra three points will make the difference between going to these places looking for points or turning up with no pressure, playing good football and seeing what happens.

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The Dog Ate It…

As some of you may have noticed, the blog hasn’t been updated recently… and what can I say about the Forest Green report? Well, it was about 2000 words long, full of pictures, and ready to publish. Then it disappeared. Seriously, its gone. It was a good one too (for those of you out of the loop, we won 5-2 and some guy called Main scored a couple…).

Naturally this left me a little down, so I decided to avoid the blog for a few days to ‘recharge my batteries’… I got a last minute call up to Wembley on Wednesday when it turned out the FA were giving out free tickets to fill the seats for the cameras, and as I know a guy who knows a guy… Then tonight I had to take Mrs AD to the cinema to make up for blowing her out of going to the cinema on Wednesday. Thus we missed a trip to the theatre that was supposed to have been taking place tonight, and, well you get the picture….

Having said that, I will be taking a step back from the blog over the next few months while I get to work on what I’m sure will be my breakthrough sci-fi horror novel, Alien Dog Zombies From Hell. No, seriously. So the blog will be match reports and the odd piece here and there until further notice. Some of you may have heard malicious gossip that Mrs AD was getting annoyed with my constant dedication to it, this of course is rubbish…

Thats the important stuff out of the way, only the small matter of recent news. Well, it turns out Chris Hussey has been sent to Coventry. Sorry that should have been… Chris Hussey has been signed byCoventry. Well that was a bit unexpected, all the more so given THE TRANSFER WINDOW IS SUPPOSED TO BE CLOSED. The problems this causes lower league bloggers like myself… Anyway, good luck to Hussey, I for one never doubted him, especially in the summer when I said ‘He will learn a few lessons against more experienced players…’. I had preempted his move to the Championship, so once again I’m right. And as Hussey never claimed to be a Don’s fan unlike some other people, you know who I’m talking about…

Anyway, more about that soon. No promises, though…

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Forest Green Rovers v AFC Wimbledon – A Match Preview

Well, I’ve been out of the loop for a few days, struck down with a virus but I’m now back fighting fit ready for the trip down to Gloucestershire. Friendly fans have been promised that will welcome us into their bar, buy us beer and let us share their women… well I’m sure it won’t be like that, but we will I’m assured get more than the usual welcome of sullen faced teens in tracksuits and bored looking police officers… sorry my last away trip was Tamworth and I still haven’t quite got over it.

I have to start with the news that, finally, someone has said something! That it needed to be James Pullen is saying something. I really think that the cracks have been papered over for too long, but Pullen is right about the lack of atmosphere at Kingsmeadow. The problem is Pullen had to speak out, as Terry Brown rounds off just about every interview by ‘Thanking the fans for their excellent support…’. So a few people have sat there thinking that what passed as an atmosphere at recent games against Histon and more noticably Kidderminster was acceptable. No!

The fact is, without making more of this than I have to, we can all do a little bit better. So lets pull our fingers out and make a bit of noise, yes? Interesting that Jamie chose this time to speak out, not having another home game for over a week… anyway. Case closed.

Lets reopen the Jon Main saga. Now I wasn’t particularly kind about Mainys recent performances the last time I wrote, and had to deflect some angry(ish) criticism of that (see Kidderminster comments…). I have to say, I did take the piss a bit, and before anyone says it, no I couldn’t do better. But then I was a goalkeeper. And judging by Main’s eagerness to get the gloves on during warmups he’s probably better than me there as well… Yet every time Main touched the ball, something went wrong.

I haven’t published my match ratings for Kidderminster, but Mainy managed to pick up the lowest mark I have given anyone all season – 3 (to put that in context the average mark I have given this year is 5.9). Following his four goal haul on Tuesday I’m sure Main will be surging with confidence, but will another barren outing just shatter that?

Now for my predicted lineup –












Despite a couple of toothless performances we should see Montgomery retain his place, with Main on the bench once more. Expect Hatton to move back to midfield to make way for the return of Jay Conroy.

Our two previous defeats have seen us bounce back with a win on the road. FGR have turned a corner following the appointment of their new manager, yet lets hope the Dons have enough in the tank to come away with a victory. Full match report will follow on Sunday…

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The Conference Files – Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green first really came to my attention a decade ago when they burst onto the Conference scene, and I was in attendance to see them lose 0-1 to Kingstonian in the FA Trophy final of 1999. At the time I expected they would hang around in the top level of non-league football for a couple of years. In fact if you had asked me then which club would still be in the Conference ten years later I would have said Kingstonian. How glad I am to be proved wrong, as over a decade later FGR are still here, having moved into their new stadium just in time (well, a couple of years in advance anyway) for a first visit by a Wimbledon team next season.

For a club sometimes referred to as The Little Club On The Hill (which sounds a bit patronising to me, either that or the title of the worlds first football/horror movie), its unlikely FGR will be phased by the arrival of the Womble hoards. After all, they had the pleasure of welcoming Derby in the third round of the FA Cup last year, and have become used to large travelling support in the form of clubs like Oxford in recent years.

FGR hit the headlines towards the end of the season following those match fixing allegations over the Grays match  – fortunately I documented the incident on the much lamented Control>Shoot blog, which can be found here http://controlshoot.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/the-great-blue-square-match-fixing-scandal/


Forest Green Rovers have been in existence since 1889 (a good year to form a football team!), playing in a variety of local leagues. From the very beginning they played at The Lawn, their ground until 2006, which was only properly enclosed in 1926. Prior to this they had an interesting couple of seasons in the early twenties, picking up four league titles and six cups in only two seasons (the club playing in two separate leagues simultaneously a la the Old Centrals Clapham League and Herald League victories in our early days).

From then on Forest Green began their initially slow progress, via founder membership of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League in 1922, then the Gloucester County League in 1968 (the year their supporters club built their own social club). They then moved to the Hellenic League in 1975, which saw a spectacular League and FA Vase double achieved in the 1981/82 campaign, which saw the club earn promotion to the Southern League.

The club knocked around in the Southern League Midland Division for a while, until a change of name (what we would probably call a ‘rebranding’ these days) saw them become Stroud FC for a few seasons. The attempt to appeal to the larger settlement four miles to the north only succeeded in alienating long time Forest Green fans. After their name reverted back to FGR in 1992, the village proved they could stand on their own in the following year.

FGRFrank Gregan was the manager that took them to back-to-back promotions through the Southern League in 1997 and 1998, making it to the Conference. Continually confounding what would appear a logical assumption that the side would struggle in the national game, they became the first club to reach Wembley in the Vase and Trophy in 1999 (the aforementioned Kingstonian game), also reaching the final in 2001, losing this time to Canvey Island at Villa Park.

Relegation battles had been an all too regular occurrence at The Lawn in the last decade, but stability seems to have come from their move to The New Lawn, only a few hundred yards from the old Lawn, paid for by the sale of their former home for housing (a ground originally purchased for £120 at auction in 1936).


An end of season finish of 18th probably made the season look a lot worse than it actually was, they effectively guaranteed themselves Conference Premier football with a February/March run which saw them lose only twice, culminating in an impressive 1-0 win at eventual playoff finalists Cambridge. They only managed to win one of their last seven though, albeit a 4-0 win over Rushden, which contributed to their low placing.

The season will be remembered by FGR fans for their cup exploits. The only managed to make the quarter-finals of the Trophy, but went all the way in the Setanta Shield, losing on penalties to AFC Telford at the New Lawn. But the moment everyone will remember was their first appearance in the FA Cup Third Round at home to Derby. They must have enjoyed their moment in the limelight, although we must have all had a chuckle at the moment a national journalist, sent down to scout out the Forest Green players, showed his ignorance of the lower leagues by asking manager Jim Harvey what his players did for a living, apparently surprised to find the answer was ‘footballers’. FGR managed to lead 2-0 and 3-2 before succumbing 4-3 to the Championship outfit.


As I mentioned previously, Forest Green Rovers are one of the many fully professional sides in the BSP, as of course we will be ourselves in a couple of years time. Their top scorer Andrew Mangan had an interesting season, winning the Conference Premier golden boot with 26 goals (pay attention Mainy, Keds and Luke!), scoring three hat-tricks in the process, before finishing up being investigated for match fixing for the second time in two years. A negative verdict from his perspective is probably the only thing that can stop him repeating the trick this term, as he has signed up for another season at The New Lawn.

Much as Wimbledon fans converged on Kingsmeadow a couple of weeks ago for a clean-up weekend, Forest Green fans take pleasure in repainting their ground every summer, a tradition they have carried over from The Lawn to The New Lawn. This sort of help is undertaken by fans of clubs up and down the country over the summer, but in FGR’s case I would imagine it is essential in keeping the close bond that exists between small clubs and their local supporters over the summer.


Another newbie for Dons fans to take in this season, and a very nice one it is too. Built only two years ago it features its own pub (don’t expect Dons fans to be allowed in unless we get a Tuesday visit in November…). The away section is seated and holds 500 which may not be enough for a Saturday trip there, but there is overspill in the adjacent terrace to the left if required.

Out of interest the two end stands were both imported from the old Lawn ground (or at least the roofs were), which must have cut costs in constructing the ground. The main stand holds about 2,000, which means FGR don’t have to worry about lacking ambition, although survival and midtable are the priorities right now should they one day find their way to promotion, their ground would only require  minor alterations to cope with the League.



(Dons home admission in brackets for comparison)

TERRACE – £13 (£12) Conc £8 (£6) U16 £5 (£2)

SEATS – £15 (£14-16) Conc £10 (£7-8) U16 £7 (£3-4)

Forest Green charge a lot more for concessions and youths than we do, however its worth remembering they don’t have 3,000 people through the gates every week to subsidise these prices.


AFC Era – None

All time Wimbledon – None

Another first timer for the Dons, as we look to make new friends in the village for the first time.


Forest Green Rovers O/S – http://www.forestgreenroversfc.com/

Forest Green Rovers Trust – http://www.fgrtrust.com/

Forest Green MAD – http://www.forestgreenrovers-mad.co.uk/

FGR Forum – http://fgrforum.publicitymatters.com/index.php?sid=3a243a5b7a229b0bce61d745fab76c42

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