At the time of writing, Forest Green have made an encouraging start to just their fifth season in the Sky Bet EFL, following an opening league win against newcomers Sutton and a shootout victory over Bristol City in the Carabao Cup. What have you made of what you have seen in the opening week or so?
It’s been a dream start for new head coach Rob Edwards. Whenever a new head coach comes in, most fans acknowledge that they may need to be patient, but Rovers have been electric in the opening few games and now there is a real sense of optimism around the club. Entertaining football, late goals, a penalty shootout victory – they’ve had it all. The supporters have also really warmed to Edwards, both as a coach and a character; he’s positive, engaging and full of fresh ideas. Rovers have been a joy to watch so far and here’s hoping it can continue.
With the club having finished in the play-off places in two of the last three seasons and twice missed out in the semi-final, would you say they are targeting one of League Two’s three automatic promotion places?
That is the target, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s important to remember that this is Edwards’ first job in the EFL, and therefore there shouldn’t be too much pressure on him to achieve automatic promotion immediately. He’s made it clear that he wants to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish. Forest Green are definitely capable of a promotion charge this season. They have one of the youngest squads in the division, but it is stacked with exciting technical players – a lot of whom are capable of playing higher. I think most supporters would be content with another play-off finish if it’s accompanied by some entertaining football along the way.
Whether he will feature is a different matter, but how much are the Forest Green fans looking forward to a reunion with Ethan Pinnock, who spent the 2016/17 season at The Fully Charged New Lawn?
Very excited. Some Forest Green fans say that Pinnock is the best player they’ve ever seen wear the shirt. He was an integral member of that promotion-winning side; whether that was by playing centre-back, left-back or as a holding midfielder. After only a handful of appearances at Forest Green, it was clear that he’d go on to play at a far higher level. I can’t say that I remember him ever having a poor game during his time in Gloucestershire. Rovers fans would have been bursting with pride watching his Premier League debut against Arsenal, but none would have been surprised at how typically assured and unflappable he looked at the elite level. The travelling support will give him a great reception should he appear on Tuesday. He’s in all of our Fantasy Football teams, too!
Which player should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on on Tuesday?
Udoka Godwin-Malife; an absolute gem who was discovered by Director of Football Richard Hughes. The 21-year-old, signed from Oxford City in January 2019, was an ever-present for Rovers last season. He’s an overlapping, right-sided centre-back who is very comfortable on the ball and possesses impressive pace which can often get him or his teammates out of a spot of bother. It was a big statement from the club to tie him down to a new contract this summer, as I’m sure he would have had plenty of admirers further up the pyramid. He has all the right attributes to follow in Pinnock’s footsteps and become a Premier League player at some point in the future.
How is Rovers head coach Rob Edwards likely to set up his side in west London?
Formation-wise, Edwards has settled on a pretty fun and fluid 3-4-1-2. He wants his side press high and to pin the opposition back into their half of the pitch, but they are also very slick when in possession. Ebou Adams plays in the No 10 role and he’s probably the most effective player in the side, with his direct running and ability to carry the ball up the pitch and win fouls. The dynamic Adams, along with flying wing-backs Kane Wilson and Nicky Cadden, make Forest Green a real counter-attacking threat. I would expect a few changes from the league game against Crawley; Sadou Diallo, Jack Aitchison and Jake Young will all be pushing for starts.
What’s your score prediction for the first ever meeting between the teams?
Two years ago, Forest Green travelled to then-Premier League side AFC Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup second round and took a team featuring Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Josh King all the way to penalties. Tuesday night’s game is the ultimate free hit for Forest Green and this youthful squad will be eager to impress on a big stage. I’m going to go for a 1-1 draw, with Brentford to progress via a penalty shootout.
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