By Billy Hunt
We’re delighted to welcome BBC Radio Gloucestershire commentator Billy Hunt as a columnist on Forest Green. He will be giving his views on the biggest talking points on FGR.
Strikers are always going to be a high-cost commodity.
Whilst there’s no shortage of strikers around, everyone wants to be a striker when they’re in the school playground, ones that can score 20-plus goals a season at a high level aren’t easy to find. When a club has a good striker they won’t get rid of him unless it’s for a very high price, often priced over the top because their club wants to keep them. Contracts can run out of course, but clubs with a goal-scoring striker don’t want them to go so a new contract often materialises.
Rovers fans knew that Jamillle Matt was a proven goal scorer. He was the club, top scorer, in the previous season with 16 goals despite missing a couple of months with his horrific hand injury. Matty Stevens was always a fan favorite. He was obviously underused under Cooper and even more so at Stevenage where he went out on loan. Matty himself did ask to go out on loan, but only because he felt so ostracised at the time. Josh March had time out on loan at Harrogate and didn’t score in the 21/22 season for Forest Green so fans were concerned.
There was some concern when Collins wasn’t replaced at the start of last season. Fast forward to the season we have just witnessed then I think we can agree the three strikers Edwards stuck with didn’t do too bad. Collins himself struggled to start with at Bristol Rovers scoring his first league goal in December, but finishing with 16 goals including two in that dramatic 7-0 win over Scunthorpe on the last game of the season.
The three Forest Green strikers are all signed on for next season. Matt and Stevens both have experience in league one. Matt played 17 games for Fleetwood in the league and scored 3 in the 2015/16 season. Stevens has played four games in league one during his 3 years at Peterborough but failed to score. March played National League North before joining and writing himself into Forest Green history scoring the goal which made them champions.
With Stevens’s injury, there is no doubt that Forest Green needs to bolster its options upfront. Which way will they go? Pay money to get a proven goal scorer in from a similar level or take a risk and grab someone from a higher level who is out of contract or out of favor.
There is of course the option of snapping up a striker from a lower level for a lesser fee. The goal is the same size no matter what you play at, however, the caliber of goalkeepers and defenders is different between the national league and league one. But you do certainly see strikers who are in a golden run at a lower league continue it at a higher level, but you do see strikers get found out when they do the same.
There will be a striker coming in. The fans will welcome whoever he may be with open arms and let us hope he can continue to hit the back of the net as much as the current ones did last season.