Matt Edwards
Tuesday 08 January 2019

Mark Cooper and George Williams have been nominated for the Sky Bet League Two manager and player of the month for December awards respectively.

It caps off what was a fine end to 2018 for Forest Green Rovers in their bid for promotion to League One as they picked up 10 of a possible 12 points from their four games over the festive period.

The run started with a last-gasp victory over Yeovil Town at Huish Park; Williams notching the winner for 10-man FGR in the fourth minute of time added on, with Reuben Reid having equalised just two minutes prior.

Forest Green’s home game with fellow promotion contenders Mansfield Town was abandoned at half time due to a waterlogged pitch with the game goalless but that didn’t impact on the run, as they returned to The New Lawn a week late to complete a 1-0 victory over Crewe Alexandra.

A comprehensive 4-1 victory away to Newport Town followed that on Boxing Day before FGR came within 10 minutes of making it a perfect month, letting a two-goal advantage slip away to Cheltenham Town to settle for a point.

It was a run that lifted them to fifth in the table and just two points off the automatic play-off places as they followed it up with a New Year’s Day victory over Northampton Town.

And Cooper, who is up against Mansfield boss David Flitcroft, Michael Jolley of Grimsby Town and Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley, knows how important December was to the team.

“It’s always nice to be nominated,” he said.

“The team has done really well and if not for a couple of silly mistakes we would have had faultless record for December but it’s onwards and upwards.

“The players had a point target over that period which they reached but looking back, we’ll be frustrated that we didn’t get maximum points because it was in our grasps, but we will learn from that.”

Williams had a month to remember in December as he netted his first League goal when scoring against Yeovil Town to spark his season into life.

He was played as a forward at Newport and took his chance, taking less than three minutes to score on his way to a memorable hat-trick that will live long in the memory before netting his fifth goal in four games when scoring against Cheltenham.

He goes up against Chris O’Grady, who netted five goals in as many games, including a hat-trick for Oldham, Lincoln striker John Akinde and Danny Grainger of Carlisle United.

“I’m delighted to be nominated,” said Williams.

“When I first scored that goal against Yeovil, I didn’t think I would go on and score another four, but I have, and it’s been great, and I feel full of confidence at the moment.

“To be nominated is a great honour.

“I’ve watched those goals against Newport back quite a bit, especially that second free-kick and the celebrations and who doesn’t enjoy watching them.

“There are some important goals in there as well. When you think back to the Yeovil game when we were down to 10 men, to score the winner in that was crucial and the Cheltenham game is a big rivalry, so that’s also an important one and I’m pleased to be contributing.”

He also earned plenty of praise from manager Cooper who has had full faith in the young Welsh international since bringing him to the club in the summer.

“It’s brilliant for George. He had a tough time up until then and we were just waiting for him to spark,” added Cooper.

“We took a gamble playing him as a centre-forward against Newport and he came to life and he hasn’t looked back since.”

The winners will be announced on Friday, January 11, with the judging panel comprising of Sky Sports’ EFL expert Don Goodman; League Managers’ Association Director Olaf Dixon and Sky Bet EFL Trader Mikey Mumford.