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Big match verdict: Relentless Rovers ‘March’ on in pursuit of promotion

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Watch Rob Edwards deliver his post-match verdict

Forest Green boss Rob Edwards may not be in line for a New Year’s honours gong from the Queen, but make no mistake if he delivers promotion to League One, he will certainly be afforded a gold star from leftfield chairman Dale Vince. 

Always looking to push the envelope, Rovers sport one star above the players’ names on the back of their shirts to toast their promotion to League Two back in 2017 and have placed two grey stars in anticipation of their next promotion and beyond to the Championship.

Ten games unbeaten and seven points clear at the top, Rovers look a shoe-in for promotion but Edwards remains measured after his side toasted the new year in with a 2-0 victory,  leaving new Stevenage boss Paul Tisdale still searching for his first win in charge.

Blowing the cobwebs of inactivity away, Rovers, who hadn’t played since the December 11th, 5-5 thriller at Oldham, struck through second-half strikes from Josh March and captain Jamille Matt.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Stevenage 1Jan 2017 | Big match verdict: Relentless Rovers 'March' on in pursuit of promotion
Jamille Matt celebrates Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

“Stevenage caused one or two problems, but we did well to keep the ball out of the net in the first-half,” said Edwards. “ We had a good solid base at the break, but in the second-half we were much cohesive and deserved the result and a clean sheet – so that’s a good day, we were rusty after three weeks off and Stevenage are organised and difficult to breakdown.”

Edwards lauded March’s impact as he took his opportunity in the absence of Covid hit top scorer Matty Stevens.

Edwards said: “I’m pleased for Josh March, he had covid early on and he’s found it difficult with our front two in such good form, It was stop-start for him through no faulty of his own  through injuries and illness and  he’s always the hardest working player and it was a fantastic goal as he came short for the ball and bounce it one-two with Kane Wilson and then Kane’s first-time cross was brilliant and Marchey (March)  set it and span and got in the box and it was a brilliant header.”

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Stevenage 1Jan 1989 | Big match verdict: Relentless Rovers 'March' on in pursuit of promotion
Jamille Matt is congratulated by Jack Aitchison and Josh March Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

With the transfer window open, Edwards is hopeful of keeping hold of his prized assets.

He added: “ We want to keep everyone together – we have a great group of players and people and we want to keep them together because we want to achieve something. We’re also realistic, but we are proactive, so we’re ready to react if needed. We want to keep the group together.”

Earlier, Stevenage almost caught Rovers’ cold when Luke McGee showed bravery to dive at the feet of Chris Lines. And it was struggling Stevenage who should have broken the first-half stalemate when the unmarked Terence Vancooten contrived to head straight at McGee when scoring would have been easier. Rovers were feeding on Christmas leftovers – Jordan Moore-Taylor heading wide and Nicky Cadden spanking wide.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Stevenage 1Jan 1555 | Big match verdict: Relentless Rovers 'March' on in pursuit of promotion
Josh March celebrates his opener Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

Rovers had been feeding on scraps but they broke the stalemate after the break when March nodded in from a move he started, glancing home from a Kane Wilson cross om 57 minutes.

Wilson conjured Rovers’ second when Matt Touched home inside the box seven minutes later. 

Adam Smith’s neat save with his feet denied Rovers’ Jack Aitchison a third and Cadden hit the base of the post as Edwards’ side finished the game on the front foot.

Still searching for his first win, new Stevenage boss Paul Tisdale took the positives from the defeat.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Stevenage 1Jan 2510 | Big match verdict: Relentless Rovers 'March' on in pursuit of promotion
Kane Wilson had a hand in both goals Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

He said: “We’ve progressed, we’ve definitely progressed and I’ve seen lots of improvement. 

“But we know that against the best teams we have to optimise our opportunities and we didn’t. 

“I’m disappointed we conceded two goals. 

 “I’ve told the players in the dressing room not to talk down what we’ve done. 

 “But losing 2-0 I’m disappointed, of course, I am. We have to believe it’s going to happen for us soon.”And Tisdale expects to see activity during the transfer window, He added: “I will be very disappointed if we don’t add to our squad soon. We’ve got the backing of the owner Mr Walllace.”

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