After the bedlam of Saturday at Charlton, this Checkatrade Trophy tie offers a chance to build momentum or, more realistically, will be a glorified reserve match that will be quickly forgotten about.
Having made almost an entire suite of changes for the previous game in this competition, against Arsenal’s under-23s, Mark Robins is unlikely to take a different approach, especially with qualification already looking unlikely as a result of the heavy defeat in that match.
With a host of kids and fringe players likely to be playing in this game, you would hope that some of those involved will be able to use this game to stake a claim for first-team football – don’t forget, Tom Bayliss made his debut in this competition last year. It may be a task made more difficult by it being an unfamiliar side figuring out how to play together.
The key area of interest is likely to be the selection of the attacking line-up, where there really are places up for grabs at the moment. Amadou Bakayoko and Jordy Hiwula both came on to positive effect at Charlton on Saturday and may be deployed from the start in this one as they look to put together a run of form, unless Robins decides to keep them rested ahead of Saturday’s more meaningful league match.
Aside from that, this looks set to be a game where we might see what the next generation of Sky Blues have to offer.
Last Time We Met
The two defeats to Forest Green could well have defined last season had we not won promotion. Both showings came at low ebbs in our campaign where goals were at a premium. The most recent of which came on a rainy Saturday afternoon back in February where Forest Green scored either side of a Marc McNulty penalty to complete the league double over us.
How Are They Doing?
Forest Green are the only unbeaten side left in the Football League, although they have drawn eight of their 12 league games thus far. It is nonetheless a marked improvement upon last year, where they struggled against the drop for much of the campaign, even more impressive in the wake of having sold their star striker, Christian Doidge, to Championship Bolton.
Manager Mark Cooper prefers a patient, passing style of play, which often led to sloppy defensive errors last season, but looks to have been more effective after some high-calibre summer signings. The likes of Joseph Mills at left-back, former Cheltenham captain Carl Winchester in midfield, and Welsh international George Williams on the wing aren’t the signings of a typical village club, this is an outfit with the ambition and resources to be pushing on towards League One.
Whether they can do that with Mark Cooper in charge remains to be seen. The former Swindon boss can tend to be a spiky character when things aren’t going his way and has a habit of bombing players out of the team during his poorer runs. At the moment, things are going his way, although an inability to convert draws into wins takes the sheen slightly off their unbeaten start.
Just how seriously Cooper and Forest Green will take this game remains to be seen. They don’t have the biggest of squads, so may include several first-team regulars. That difference in intensity and physicality that utilising players used to starting games could possibly decide this game in their favour.
There’s no real need to delve into much greater depth for this game. Both teams could do without this game, both sides are likely to be heavily-changed, neither is going to be bothered about the result.
I’m going to test the waters here and predict a win here, because why not?