Now that Morecambe have left us and Woking are no longer relevant, Forest Green Rovers are the most familiar faces we ever knew. After we first came across this quaint village side during the early stages of the 1998-9 season, it was a struggle to separate us. It’s why we now have 35 past encounters under our belt. But this is a game that we could do without right now; Rovers currently top of the League Two pile and us – well – sliding down the table at an alarming rate.
Did we mention that our record against them in the Football League is laughable?
Oh. This could be a painful read then.
Stevenage v Forest Green Rovers
Lamex Stadium, Stevenage — 18 September 2021 — Sky Bet League Two
Both us and you neither have the time nor patience to recall each of our 35 past meetings with the Rovers. So, we won’t keep you too long. Suffice to say that a 3-0 home win last season on 2 March 2021 was the first time that we’d been on the right side of the result since they came up to the Football League in 2017. And it was the first time since a 3-1 defeat on 13 February 2018 that we’d even managed to score a goal against them.
Since the 2017-8 season, we’d drawn three (all 0-0) and lost four in seven encounters. That was, of course, until last season. There’s not a lot more we can do to polish what seems like a turd of a head-to-head record. One of those 0-0 draws came on 26 December 2019, which ensured our Christmas wasn’t a write-off. And our 0-0 draw at The New Lawn on 21 September 2019 meant the Rovers were one of few teams not to beat us during our dismal 2019-20 effort.
“It was better in the Conference…”
… and it was. Boro’ were unbeaten in six against Rovers by the time we clinched the Blue Square Premier title. A 2-0 win at the Lamex on 10 April 2010 capped that run, which also includes a 4-1 win at home on 21 February 2009 en route to the previous season’s FA Trophy triumph.
Goals were plentiful for us back then too. Take out our Football League form and our return was 54 from 27: an average of two per game. When you’re busy drawing 4-4 (away, 09 April 2007) or winning 4-1 (home, 16 February 2002), all those goals start to add up. In fact, we’ve beaten ’em by a three-goal margin on six occasions.
It’s been a long path for both of us. It started for us back on 29 August 1998 with a 2-1 victory at The Lawn. We’re not sure, at the time, that we thought FGR would be sticking around too long in the Conference. And there were campaigns where the signs were ominous. A 10-point deduction for Northwich Victoria in 2004-5 spared them, while goal difference was the saviour the following year. Even in the year of our title success, Salisbury City’s failure meant a reprieve for Rovers.
Now look how far they’ve come. And it’s bloody annoying how we seem to struggle against ’em.