It was a day to forget for Forest Green Rovers as they were defeated 2-1 in injury time by their National League rivals Sutton United at Gander Green Lane.
Roarie Deacon latched onto Former-Cheltenham George McLennan’s cross to seal Sutton’s place in the first round proper of the FA Cup – and end Rovers chance of a cup run.
But Mark Cooper’s side shouldn’t let this setback ruin the positive start in the National League…
Park Life football writer Elliot Owens reflects on Forest Green Rovers’ last-gasp defeat away to Sutton United.
It shouldn’t be doom and gloom – it’s quite the opposite…
This result comes as a shock and rightly so, National League South champions Sutton are already 11 points behind Forest Green in the current National League table. However, the club have to look at this in a different perspective. Seven of the current top 10 are still in the competition, meaning they will have an extra game, two or more to contend with in an already busy league calendar.
As well as the possibility of injuries, suspensions and lack of match fitness affecting a number of the teams – Rovers will therefore have an advantage heading into the busy Christmas period.
Furthermore, Mark Cooper’s side are top leading the way in the National League after the first quarter of games, having only lost twice and with Rhys Murphy in amongst the top goal-scorers – there is plenty of reason to be cheerful after setting promotion this season as the main objective.
So, yes, it was a poor result on Saturday but FGR are on their way to their Football League ambitions, which would also mean they wouldn’t even have to qualify for the FA Cup.
“Disappointing” – Mark Cooper’s post-match reaction
It was easy to spot the irritation in Mark Cooper following the defeat: “(It made me) angry.
“I felt we were in control of the game – once we got to the final third we either crossed it behind the goal or we have hit somebody up the backside with it.”
Cooper continued: “Today was disappointing, the players will be in tomorrow morning – their day off tomorrow, cancelled.”
It isn’t the first time the former Swindon gaffer has brought his squad in for training a day after a fixture. FGR failed to win their opening two games of the season – which prompted intense training on the following day.
Who next for Rovers?
The Nailsworth side host joint-bottom Guiseley at the New Lawn on the weekend – the ideal fixture to make amends for their early cup exit.
Adam Lockwood’s side are finally starting to make grounds with two straight wins against York and Southport and will be in the hat for the first round proper as they held Lincoln City to a draw last Saturday at Sincil Bank.
It won’t be a guaranteed three points but they will fancy themselves at home. I would fully expect a swift change to the forward line judging by Mark Cooper’s comments.