Forest Green Rovers v Stevenage [Match Preview]


By Pete H

Our point up at Mansfield stopped our run of defeats in its tracks – but next up comes a tough away day at Forest Green Rovers. The New Lawn is not exactly up there with our happiest hunting grounds. So, it’s asking a fair amount of this new-look Boro’ side to get back to winning ways. It’s not out of the question. But it is now more than 10 years since we’ve been on the right side of the result against these guys. And things have changed a fair amount for both of us in that time. More on that later. First, the weather…

The Details: Forest Green Rovers v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

The New Lawn is where it’s at this week. It’s somewhere over there in Gloucestershire.

Can I watch Forest Green Rovers v Stevenage

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How are Boro’ shaping up…?

For us, it does bug us a little that we didn’t come back from Mansfield with three points. But are we asking for too much too soon? Instead of coming into this next game off the back of four straight defeats, we’re unbeaten in one. And that’s something for us to hold onto. We suppose the Stags hit the woodwork on more than one occasion too. So, we’ll probably just have to be grateful for small mercies. We know Alex Revell‘s team is still a work in progress. And we can’t expect it to get much easier this weekend either.

… and how are they looking?

After finishing in the 2018-9 playoffs, this weekend’s hosts didn’t have the 2019-20 they were hoping for. Then again, who bloody did? With PPG taken into account, FGR came 10th at the final count. And that was pretty disappointing for a side that was aiming a lot higher. But you can be sure they’ll be in the mix again this time around. The way they’ve started hints at that; two wins and three draws leaving them unbeaten and in sixth.

The grim news is that Rovers come into this one off the back of a 4-1 win at Scunthorpe last week. Since losing to Leyton Orient (Carabao Cup) and Exeter (EFL Trophy) back in August, things are now looking good for them. Two of their draws came against Bradford (2-2) and Salford (0-0). So, not a million miles from our results from those two teams. It’s what you might call a thin straw to be grasping at, to be honest. But take if you want to.

Our story with Forest Green Rovers so far

First, the bigger picture. From 33 meetings up to this point, we’ve won 13 and drawn 13 – leaving Rovers on just seven wins by comparison. The problem is there’s a second string to this bow. And that’s our recent record against Rovers. We’ve failed to score in our last four encounters (including two goalless draws at the New Lawn). Nor have we come out on top since April 2010 when we were still both non-league sides.

Now, we said that our last two trips to their place have ended goalless. Three of the past four games between us have that scoreline. That includes both league outings last term; home and away. That must make them one of the few teams not to beat us last season? Well, that’s almost a result in itself isn’t it? For two sides that once bashed out a 4-4 epic, goalless draws are a bit off. But let’s hope we can maybe contribute some goals this time.

Last Meeting: Stevenage 0-0 Forest Green Rovers, 26 December 2019
Classic Encounter: Forest Green Rovers 4-4 Stevenage Borough, 09 April 2007

Who’s the referee in charge?

James Bell.

For a side we’ve played so many times, it’s nice that our latest match against Rovers will have something new about it. And that comes in the form of James Bell, a ref we’ve not seen before. Mind you, it’s quite possible that we’ve seen him running the line at some point. Not that anyone remembers the assistant referees for much except a poor offside call. Of course, we’re not accusing him of that. Lordy – we’d hate to get off to a bad start with him. No offence intended Mr Bell – honest!

Mr Bell is now four games in this season; two in League Two and another two in the EFL Trophy. With the exception of Mansfield’s goalless draw with Tranmere, there have been four bookings in each match. Grimsby’s Evan Khouri is the only man to see Mr Bell’s red card as we head into this clash with Rovers. Will we see another here? Who knows?

Last Meeting: None

I have £1 to bet – what are my options?

You’ll not get a lot back if a home win is your preferred punt; 3/4 the best price we saw as we wrote this. On the flip side, it means we’re quite a way out for a two-horse race; 4/1 could be a potential earner. But it does depend on us upsetting the odds, which is exactly what’s going on here. With a track record of goalless draws lately, 10/1 (VBet) is the best price on that Correct Score. But we just can’t see both sides drawing a blank again. Both Teams to Score at 10/11? We’re torn on that.

Jack Aitchison is 4/1 to score against his former team, by the way.

Forest Green Rovers v Stevenage: Our verdict?

It’s not often we’re asked that. For what it’s worth, however, we’re going for a home win – 2-1 or 3-1. We can only hope our historic record of getting this wrong is still intact.