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Big match preview: Harrogate v Forest Green

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After the midweek defeat to Portsmouth in the EFL Cup, Forest Green head to Harrogate Town for their first away trip of the 2023/24 League Two season.

David Horseman’s side have lost both of their matches so far this term, with a 2-0 loss against Salford City on opening day followed by the 3-1 loss to League One Portsmouth, in which Tyrese Omotoye scored his first goal for the club in his second successive start.

Horseman said: “I think the performances are strong and we will win games.

“Ideally, we win Saturday, and all of these conversations go away really quickly which would be really nice.”

This weekend’s opponents Harrogate are into their fourth straight season in League Two after a 19th placed finish in 2022/23, but they got off to the perfect start last weekend against Doncaster Rovers as Jack Muldoon’s second half penalty turned out to be the difference between the two sides.

This was followed up by a 1-0 win at home to Carlisle in the EFL Cup, securing the North Yorkshire side a second round tie against Blackburn Rovers on 29th August.

Harrogate made seven changes ahead of the Carlisle win, so may revert to a similar team that overcame Doncaster, with Muldoon, Rod McDonald and Anthony O’Connor likely to return.

Forest Green have a strong record against Saturday’s opponents, winning three of the four League Two meetings between 2020 and 2022. The only defeat came in April 2022, where Rovers relinquished top spot in League Two for the first time in seven months, before recovering to secure the League Two title on the final day of the season.

Rovers have been busy in the transfer market of late, with Horseman keen to add to a side so depleted in depth by relegation to League Two. The club has made four signings in the last week, Marcel Lavinier joining from Swindon Town as Udoka Godwin-Malife went the other way, before Jacob Maddox and Alfie Bendle joined on permanent deals, with defender Reece Welch brought in from Everton on a season-long loan, but it is unlikely any of them will make their full debuts on the weekend.

“We will not necessarily throw them in (to first team action),” said Horseman.

“The cup game obviously gave us an opportunity to probably give some debuts and minutes to people that maybe it is a touch early for a couple of them, but we need to get the squad up and running the best we can.

“I do think with a couple of the newer ones is that bedding in and understanding the culture of the group and also the way that we want to play (is important).

“It is where we are and the boys do not moan, they come on and have a right go.

 Obviously, we want to score lots of goals to entertain the fans and that is something we are working on.”

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