FRUSTRATED Forest Green boss Mark Cooper insisted his side “didn’t turn up” for 45 minutes as former Premier League star Wes Hoolahan proved the difference for Cambridge United.
The 38-year-old ex-Norwich City midfielder finished with aplomb seven minutes before the break in a game that saw Rovers’ Lewis Thomas save a first-half Paul Mullin penalty.
Cooper said: “I feel disappointed, we wasted 45 minutes and Cambridge were miles better than us in the first half. We changed personnel at the break and shape at half-time and we were a lot better in the second-half. We didn’t run and fight for 45 minutes. I’ll take the second-half performance, but for 45 minutes we didn’t turn up.
“We had four or five players who were nowhere near the level in terms of energy, maybe I got some selections wrong, but we were short on choices.”
Aaron Collins missed a glorious opportunity to salvage a point when he headed wide from an Odin Bailey cross with 20 minutes to go.
Cooper added: “Aaron was just four yards out in the middle of the goal, and had that gone in it could have been interesting.”
Rovers’ boss felt his side afforded Hoolahan the freedom of Cambridge when he slotted in his goal. He said: “He went past about four players, he’s 38, but he didn’t even break a sweat – you can’t stand off players of that quality.”
Cooper confirmed Rovers’ threadbare squad will continue to be without Ebou Adams and Jordan Moore-Taylor for the trip to Mansfield Town on Tuesday.