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‘I don’t see it as a confidence issue’ – Rob Edwards on sixth game without a win

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Forest Green 0 Bradford City 2

By Jeff Taplin

Embattled Forest Green boss Rob Edwards is up for the fight despite his table-toppers final straight wobble.

Forest Green are still eight points clear at the top following a winless run of six games after Callum Cooke helped stopped the rot for Bradford against ten-man league leaders Rovers to give boss Mark Hughes his first win.

Busy midfielder Cooke drilled in his third goal of the season from the edge of the box in the 64th minute as City ended a five-game losing streak in the former Wales manager’s third game in charge.

Forest Green’s title charge has faltered and in the 77th-minute central defender Udoka Godwin-Malife picked up a second yellow card.

And Rovers misery was complete when striker Andy Cook raced upfield to slot his eleventh the of the campaign into an empty net after Rovers keeper Luke McGee had gone upfield for a 95th-minute corner.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Bradford City 12Mar22 1788 | 'I don’t see it as a confidence issue' - Rob Edwards on sixth game without a win
Former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes watched his new side Bradford City upset the odds at Forest Green Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

Bradford defender Luke Hendrie needed to clear a header from midfielder Dan Sweeney off his line in the 24th minute with Alex Bass beaten, but the keeper did well to palm over a Nicky Cadden goal-bound shot three minutes after the break.

But Rovers could have been two ahead in the first thirteen minutes.

In the fifth minute Jordan Moore-Taylor nodded the ball down to central defensive partner Baily Cargill on the left side of the box, but his low shot flew just wide of the far post.

Barnsley loanee striker Jack Aitchison then cleverly lifted the ball over the City defence into the area on the left, but wing-back Nicky Cadden put his effort wide of the near post.

Calmness personified, Edwards is remaining optimistic despite his side’s faltering form, he said: “You’re always going to have spells like this, but the lads are still confident and believe in themselves. We’re in a bit of a bad moment, but now is the time to stick together.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Bradford City 12Mar22 4537 | 'I don’t see it as a confidence issue' - Rob Edwards on sixth game without a win
Udoka Godwin-Malife is shown a red card Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

“I never complain when we lose a game because there are reasons why and the reason today was because we didn’t take our chances and they defended very, very well.

“When you can’t get the ball over the line at one end, then you have to make sure you don’t let it over the line at the other end and we didn’t do that.

“I’m bitterly disappointed. We were really up for it and I think the lads showed that the way they started the game.

“To concede the first goal was a knock and to go down to ten men was a severe blow.

“The two bookings Udoka got were a little harsh, but there’s not much we can do about it.

“Tough people and tough characters in bad times find ways of bouncing back.

“I don’t see it as a confidence issue. There was a little quality lacking in the final third, but that’s not a confidence thing.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Bradford City 12Mar22 4439 | 'I don’t see it as a confidence issue' - Rob Edwards on sixth game without a win
Matty Stevens makes a break for Rovers Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

“We’ve got eleven huge games left and a lot of leaders in that dressing room.”

Former Wales manager Mark Hughes watched Cooke and Cook end City’s five-game losing streak in his third game in charge following the sacking of Derek Adams and said: “That was a reward for the last two weeks of effort the players have put in.

“I was really pleased with the performance and it’s a great three-point for us against the league leaders.

“The first goal was hugely important. It gave us a huge lift and we managed to see out the game quite comfortably.

“When Forest Green went down to ten men it didn’t make too much of a difference as they still threw bodies forward.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Bradford City 12Mar22 1308 | 'I don’t see it as a confidence issue' - Rob Edwards on sixth game without a win
Kane Wilson arrows over a cross Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

“It was important that we got something from the game after last week when we deserved something, but came away with nothing.

“This is huge for us in terms of morale and confidence. We came to the league leaders and deserved to win. We have a number of games now before the end of the season to build momentum.

“It was a long trek to get here and so I’d like to think it was worth the supporters’ while.”

“I’m bitterly disappointed. We were really up for it and I think the lads showed that the way they started the game.

PSI SH Forest Green Rovers Bradford City 12Mar22 4148 | 'I don’t see it as a confidence issue' - Rob Edwards on sixth game without a win
Dan Sweeney looks to get Rovers on the ball Pic: Shane Healey/ Pro Sports Images

“To concede the first goal was a knock and to go down to ten men was a severe blow.

“The two bookings Udoka got were a little harsh, but there’s not much we can do about it.

“Tough people and tough characters in bad times find ways of bouncing back.

“I don’t see it as a confidence issue. There was a little quality lacking in the final third, but that’s not a confidence thing.

“We’ve got eleven huge games left and a lot of leaders in that dressing room.”

JEFF TAPLIN’S BIG MATCH VERDICT

Bradford finally found the way to win again in front of new boss Mark Hughes after a five-game losing streak and the former Wales boss will now be focussing on building momentum and preparing for next season.

The Bantams are fourteen points clear of the drop zone and the same number of points from the play-offs, but Hughes will be pleased to get off the mark and delighted to see the effort his players put in against the league leaders.

Forest Green have faltered at the top in recent weeks and may not have won a game in the last six, but it’s hard to see them blowing a nine-point gap to the play-off places.

Automatic promotion looks certain and with the teams below them just as inconsistent, it eases the pressure on Rob Edwards’s men and they should still finish the season as top dogs.

FOREST GREEN: McGee, Godwin-Malife, Moore-Taylor, Cargill, Wilson, Adams, Sweeney (Young 89min), Cadden, Aitchison (McAteer 71min), Matt, Stevens (March 89min).

Subs (not used): Stevenson, Hendry, Diallo, Thomas.

Bradford: Bass, Hendrie, O’Connor, Songo’o, Foulds, Watt, Evans, Gilliead (Sutton 63min), Cooke (Lavery 90), Pereira 6 (Walker 63min), Cook.

Subs (not used): Delfouneso, Threlkeld, Kelleher, O’Donnell.

REFEREE: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire)

BOOKING: Evans (City)

SENT OFF: Godwin-Malife (Forest Green)

ATTENDANCE: 3,339

SHOTS ON TARGET: Forest Green 6 City 5

SHOTS OFF TARGET: Forest Green 11 City 3

CORNERS: Forest Green 7 City 4

FOULS: Forest Green 8 City 11

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