Jimmy Ball, take a bow – Forest Green’s interim head coach has rejuvenated Rovers’ previously faltering season.
Three wins, two draws, and a defeat in his brief caretaker tenure catapults his side into rude health ahead of their shot at a historic promotion opportunity to League One.
The likable Ball is grounded enough to know the job is only half done as he turns his focus to a first-leg semi-final play-off test at Newport County on Tuesday, May 18 (kick-off 8.15pm) before the return leg on Sunday (kick-off 6.30pm).
Rovers were far from scintillating in a scoreless first-half at Oldham Athletic on Saturday, and even dropped out of the play-offs when Exeter City took the lead against Barrow, but Rovers were a different animal after the break,Ball acknowledging a half-time pow-wow with keeper coach Dan Connor proving the catalyst to the turnaround, with the mercurial Aaron Collins bagging a second-half brace and conjuring a goal for Odin Bailey as Rovers came home with a 3-0 victory.
And a buoyant Ball said: “That result, and getting in the play-offs, is nothing more than everyone deserves at the football club.
“That’s the staff, the players, and of course the fans.
“We’ll now head into the play-offs in the right groove – we’re in good form and that’s a perfect position to be in.
“We were a bit edgy in the first half, a bit nervy for 20 or 25 minutes, but we changed the shape and matched them up, and after that I just always felt a goal would come.
“We kept going into the second half and showed that hunger and desire you need, and we got there in the end.
“I always knew we’d get a goal, so to get two so quickly after one another like we did, that just knocks the stuffing out of the opposition.
“We’re confident heading into the Newport game and, if we execute like we have today, we’ll be just fine.”