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🔍 Opposition: Forest Green Rovers (H)

Jed Penberthy has the lowdown on the Green Devils

1 September 2021

After a well-earned week off, Exeter City return to St James Park with the visit of early pacesetters Forest Green Rovers.

Ahead of the encounter, here’s a brief overview of the Green Devils.

  • Founded: 1889
  • Nicknames: The Green Devils, Rovers, The Little Club on the Hill
  • Honours: Southern League (1997/98), FA Vase (1981/82)
  • Home Kit: PLAYERLAYER Green and Black Zebra Print shirt, green shorts and socks
  • Away Kit: PLAYERLAYER Zebra Print shirt, white shorts and socks
  • Form: WWWWL (1st in League Two)

A football club was recorded in Forest Green at the end of the 19th Century established by the local Reverend Edward Peach and began their history at the Lawn Ground in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.

Nailsworth is a small town in the Stroud Valleys about 25 miles north of Bristol most notable for its milling history.  Nailsworth parish included the sites of at least 14 mills, situated on the various brooks which join to form the Nailsworth stream.

The football club joined the Mid-Gloucestershire League for 1894/95 season but disappeared, before reforming as Forest Green Rovers in 1898. In 1968 Rovers became founders of the Gloucestershire County League and progressed to the Hellenic League in ’75.

Success of Rainworth Miners Welfare in the FA Vase final in 1982 was the start of the rise-up the football pyramid, firstly to the Southern League in 82/83, then to the Conference in 1998/99.

The Greens reached the play-offs in 2014/15 and 15/16, before finally being promoted to the football league after a 3-1 win over Tranmere at Wembley in the 2017 play-off final.  

Pioneering as the world’s ‘Greenest Football Club’, sustainability is central to everything Forest Green Rovers do, from solar panels and electric vehicle charging points at The New Lawn, to a wholly vegan matchday menu. FGR are the only football club awarded with the Vegan Society Trademark.

Rovers have had a blistering start two the 2021/22 campaign and have four wins from five in the league. After Tuesday night’s penalty loss to Northampton in the Papa John’s Trophy, they are however, winless in two.  

Manager

Rob Edwards

No, not that one. This Rob Edwards was appointed in the off-season replacing caretaker boss Jimmy Ball.

Rob Edwards FGR.jpg

Edwards had a brief stint with the England Under 16’s before taking the job at the New Lawn. The former Wales international amassed 15 caps for his country in a playing career which included terms at Wolves, Aston Villa and Blackpool, being at the Tangerines during their first year in the Premier League under Ian Holloway.

He made over 200 appearances in his playing career before moving into management in 2016. During Wolves’ League One years, Edwards steadied the ship before grabbing a move as top dog at AFC Telford United in the Conference North.

He soon rejoined the backroom staff at Molineux as U23 manager before his call up to St Georges Park with the England Schoolboys. In May he was offered his first full time role as an EFL boss, with the move to Gloucestershire and has hit the ground running with Forest Green.

Stadium

  • Name: The innocent New Lawn
  • Capacity: 5,009
  • Year opened: 2006
  • Record Attendance: 4,836 vs Derby County (FA Cup 3rd Round, 2009)
  • Address: Another Way, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, GL6 0FG

NewLawn.jpg

Perched on top of a hill in Nailsworth in the picturesque Cotswold countryside, The New Lawn is not your typical football stadium.

Opened in 2006 to replace the old Lawn Ground (1890) the ground boasts the world’s first ‘organic’ pitch, meanwhile solar panels account for 25% of the ground’s electricity.

The pitch itself recycles rainwater for stadium use and waste oil from kitchens is turned into biofuel. Plans are well in place to expand the New Lawn by building it almost entirely out of wood.

The Innocent smoothie company took over sponsorship rights early this season by inviting fans to rename the ground, though in their invitation they announced ‘Stadium McStadiumface’ would not be accepted.

One To Watch

Matt Stevens

Excelling his way to the top of the scoring charts, 23 year-old Matt Stevens leads the line for Rovers. He’s leading the climb for the Little Club on the Hill with five goals in as many games in the early stages of this season.

Forest Green Rovers sign Peterborough United striker on three year deal -  Gloucestershire Live

Born in Guildford, Stevens already has a plethora of employers on his footballing CV, starting out in the Reading Youth before moving to Barnet in 2014. Peterborough United recognised his talents and snapped him up in 2017, offering him a loan to Ireland and Sligo Rovers the same season.

His time at London Road came to an end in 2019 and he move to Forest Green. A short loan to Stevenage last season has boosted his confidence and with a great goalscoring record at the start of this term he’s started as he means to go on, as Rovers’ Number 9.

Head to Head

City have a great historical record against Rovers having only lost once in all competitions. The teams have met each other 13 times with the Grecians on top in seven of those encounters.

  • Exeter wins: 7
  • Draws: 5
  • Forest Green wins: 1

Recent encounters

Forest Green 0-0 Exeter City | Sky Bet League Two | New Lawn | April 20, 2021

With five games to go and all to play for for both sides, neither team could find the net.

Exeter City 1-1 Forest Green Rovers | Sky Bet League Two | St James Park | Boxing Day 2020

Fans in the ground were off their feet in festivities, when Archie Collins scored his goal of the season contender to cancel out his namesake’s opener.

Exeter City 3-2 Forest Green Rovers | EFL Trophy | St James Park | September 8, 2020

Exeter picked up their first win of the 2020/21 season through goals from Nicky Ajose, Matt Jay and Josh Key.

And Finally

Forest Green won their first league title in 1902-03 when they were declared champions of the Dursley and District League in unusual circumstances. Rovers were unable to complete two of their fixtures and the league management committee awarded them full points bringing them level with Stonehouse. The two sides played off for the title and Rovers ran out 2-1 winners.


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