Noah Dougherty
Friday 16 August 2019

Forest Green Rovers play host to Grimsby Town this weekend as the Mariners make the long trip from the east coast.

Both teams, along with last weekend’s opposition Walsall, have four points in the bank after two games. Grimsby currently sit fourth in the table, ahead of Rovers on goals for.

Here is all you need to know ahead of the game.

What we said: 

Mark Cooper clapping Oldham Athletic home

“Tuesday gives the players the belief that they need to stick to what we do, when we do that, we’re really good. When we get away from it, we’re not very good like at Walsall,” explained Mark Cooper.

"It's not difficult to pick a team for Saturday against Grimsby, I know what I want to do. The other night there was no pressure on us so we could go out and express ourselves. On Saturday, there is more pressure and I have to pick a team to deal with that."

"We're still trying to find our feet in terms of the best selection, the best formation. Losing George Williams has thrown us a little bit as he was the one we wanted to try and play through. As of yet we haven't brought anyone in, we are looking."

What they said:  

Michael Jolley Grimsby Town manager

“I think they are one of the stronger teams in our division and they have got their own unique style of play, which can be difficult to counter,” said Town boss Michael Jolley.

“They have a clear identity, in terms of how they play and I’m very respectful of it because it’s a brave way of playing football.

“They take a lot of risks with their possession but they’re very good at it, and it’s difficult to play against.

“But we are in a good place at the moment and we can go into that game confident that we can put a good performance in and try to bring something back from the game.”

Injury news:

Forest Green:

Rovers remain without long-term absentee George Williams. Liam Shephard is still unavailable following his operation during pre-season, while Farrend Rawson is ruled out of the clash after his concussion at Walsall.

Grimsby:

Grimsby Town may well be without Ahkeem Rose this weekend after the striker’s hamstring injury ruled him out of Grimsby’s Carabao Cup victory over Doncaster in midweek.

Swedish defender Ludvig Öhman is also doubtful after a clash of heads in last weekend’s game against the Bantams.

Liam Gibson, who is on loan from Newcastle United, returned to fitness in time to make his Mariners debut during Tuesday’s cup tie, while front man Harry Cardwell is also back in action following a calf injury.

About: Grimsby Town 

One of the five sides that Rovers did the double over last season, Grimsby Town make the trip to Nailsworth for their second away game of the new season with hopes of improving on the 2018/19 campaign.

Despite some good runs of form, particularly during December where Michael Jolley picked up the manager of the month award, and January, The Mariners ended the campaign in 17th position, just one place better than the season before.

Grimsby started their preparation for the 2019/20 season with an 8-0 victory over local side Cleethorpes Town, before a pre-season camp in Cheshire, along with two warm-up games against higher opposition in Doncaster Rovers and Peterborough United, looked to set The Mariners up nicely for the season to come.

Their start to the League Two campaign has also caught the eye early on, with an away win over Morecambe on the opening day of the season followed up by a draw over Bradford City, before the Carabao cup saw a repeat of their pre-season fixture with Doncaster, in which they claimed a 1-0 victory over the League One side to progress to the next round.

Town manager Jolley, has been at the club since March of the 2017/18 season following his departure from Swedish club AFC Eskilstuna, and was pivotal in them beating the drop that campaign as they battled near the foot of the table alongside FGR.

He has made a handful of changes to his squad over the summer. The addition of three forwards and the versatile ex-Notts County defender Elliott Hewitt, paired with popular goalkeeper and back-to-back player-of-the-season winner James McKeown penning a deal until 2022, can only spell good news for the Town faithful.

All four of Jolly’s permanent summer signing’s, James Hanson, Matt Green, Moses Ogbu and Elliott Hewitt, made appearances as The Mariners kick-started their league season with a 2-0 win over Morecambe, while Hanson scored against his former club Bradford in their 1-1 draw last weekend.

Wes Thomas was the club’s top scorer last term with 12 goals in all competitions, and they will need Hanson or one of the other front line to not only fill those boots but also improve on that tally to be challenging higher up the division.

It has been 15 years since Grimsby last tasted League One football, with it named the First Division back then, but a good start to this season will have their fans hoping for a season of flirting with a return to the third tier of English Football.

Key Player: Elliott Whitehouse 

Elliott Whitehouse celebrates for Grimsby

Whitehouse joined The Mariners on a two-year-deal in the summer of 2018 after turning down a new contract at local rivals, Lincoln City. In Lincoln’s promotion winning season of 2016/17, Whitehouse played a pivotal part making 34 appearances, scoring six times. After a horrific 2018/19 season following a cruciate ligament injury, Whitehouse made his competitive debut for The Mariners against Morecambe, scoring the opening goal.

Last time we met: 

Nathan McGinley vs Grimsby Town at The New Lawn

A dominant Forest Green Rovers scored three without reply against Grimsby Town at The New Lawn to lift them into sixth place.

Christian Doidge achieved, and then surpassed, a half-century of league goals for Rovers before Reece Brown added a third just after half time as FGR got back to winning ways.

As is becoming a pattern, Forest Green started the encounter brightly with Doidge going the closest he’s come to re-opening his account since re-joining the side. He couldn’t direct Williams cross home though, former-FGR man Sam Russell palming the strike onto the post.

The Mariners had an opportunity to open the scoring after 19 minutes as Harry Cardwell was slid through on goal, but Nathan McGinley was quick to demonstrate his blistering pace and recover to make the tackle.

Nine minutes later Rovers were ahead, Liam Shephard curling a perfect cross into the area for Doidge to head home, powering home his 50th league goal for the club.

 The hosts went a matter of inches from doubling their advantage four minutes later as Shephard drove through the midfield before threading in Brown whose dinked effort looked destined for the net, but Mariners skipper Harry Davis slid in to clear off the line.

One minute into the allotted two of additional time, a powerful Joseph Mills free-kick was too hot for Russell to handle and Doidge was able to pounce on the loose ball and stab home the rebound.

The second half started exactly the way the first half ended for Rovers and they had a shout for a penalty after just four minutes. Gavin Gunning’s searching pass down the left set Doidge away and, despite appeals for a penalty as he was brought down by Ludwug Ohman, the referee decided the contact came outside the area and signalled for a free-kick.

The extra distance and the addition of a wall seemed no issue for Brown though as he curled a low effort into the far corner to hand Forest Green a three-goal lead before the hour mark.

A more consolidated spell followed for Rovers as they slowed the pace of the game, keeping the ball or holding Grimsby at arm’s length when they looked to get forward.

A late chance for The Mariners could have snatched them a consolation goal as Ahkeem Rose got his head to a cross in the area but he nodded well wide of the post.

Head-to-head:

Despite last season’s double over the Mariners, Forest Green still fall a little way behind in the head-to-head.

Grimsby have won 10 of the 17 meetings between the sides, one being the National League play-off final in May of 2016, while just three of the encounter’s have ended with the spoils shared.

Three of Rovers’ four wins against Town have come at The New Lawn, a 4-1 opening-day victory last season their only win at Blundell Park.

Coverage:

If you are a fan living abroad, you can now watch the game live by subscribing to our video streaming service HERE, or if you are in the UK, you can listen to the game with our audio service HERE.

To listen to the audio or watching the match on a mobile device, you need to download the app FGR TV in the App Store on Apple devices or Google Play on Android.

Full commentary of Saturday’s match will be available on BBC Radio Gloucestershire on 1413AM.

Stay up to date on Twitter and Instagram by following @FGRFC_Official, which will have all of the team news before kick-off and updates throughout the game.

There will also be key updates and team news on Facebook. Round-up the clash by checking out the club website where there will be a full report looking back on the encounter, as well as post-match reaction from players and management.