Matt Edwards
Saturday 04 August 2018

Manager Mark Cooper wants his side to now maintain the high standards they have set themselves by winning the opening game of the season 4-1 away at Grimsby Town.

FGR set the bar high as they came from behind after a dubious penalty decision in the first half to secure their biggest away win in the Football League.

“I thought we played really well,” said Cooper.

“There was the ridiculous penalty decision given against us but we kept playing and I thought we fully deserved to get the three points. Credit to the players, I’m really pleased with them.

“The back four and the goalkeeper were outstanding, it’s the best I’ve seen Farrend Rawson.

“It’s only important if we keep it going and we have got to be humble and grounded and work really hard again this week like we have done all pre-season.”

Carl Winchester opened the scoring in the second half for the visitors with a tidy finish inside the six-yard box before an bizarre own goal from James Collins gifted Rovers the lead.

Winchester was outstanding today, different class, and fully deserve his goal.
Mark Cooper

It was then the turn of Mr reliable Christian Doidge to start the season with a bang and wrap up the win with a brace.

“At half time I just said carry on, keep doing what they were doing, keep pressing them but we just needed to be a bit more incisive in the final third,” added Cooper.

“When you are 1-0 down at half time, it’s always ideal if you can get an early goal.

“It’s never easy because the opposition guard what they’ve got but I thought Winchester was outstanding today, different class, and fully deserve his goal.

“I was getting ready to make a change when the second goal went in and discussing that with the staff and I turned around to see the ball rolling into the goal.

“We’ll take that. We’ll say we deserved to win the game and sometimes when you press and get at a team, mistakes like that happen.

“We didn’t want to be sat in defending the 2-1 lead and getting anxious late on, we wanted to try and keep going forward and I think we're best when we do that with the attacking players we’ve got.”

Central defender Gav Gunning kept hold of the captain’s armband from pre-season but Cooper explained that he is going to mix it up when it comes to who leads the players out of the tunnel, with a number of experienced heads in the squad up to the task.

“I gave Gav Gunning the captaincy today because it was his old club and I didn’t want him to get involved like he did at the end of last season, I wanted him to focus and be a leader,” he said.

“I said to the players, I am going to change the captaincy for different games.”

Winger Theo Archibald would have counted himself unlucky as he had to go off with a nose bleed after coming on as a second-half substitute, while goalkeeper Robert Sanchez suffered a head injury late on but Cooper says they should both be fine.

“Sanch is a bit groggy, but should be ok,” he explained.

“Theo just had a really bad whack on the nose but he should be fine.”

Forest Green's first home league game of the season will be against Oldham Athletic on Saturday, August 11. Get your tickets here.