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PREVIEW | Exiles head to Forest Green for CheckaTrade opener

27 August 2017

Forest Green Rovers are playing in the Checkatrade trophy for the first time following their promotion via the National League play-offs last season. The 3-1 victory over Tranmere Rovers at Wembley meant that FGR made it to League 2 for the first time in their 128-year history, hence why this will be their first time playing in this competition.

Here, you can find out everything you need to know about our encounter in Group E of the Checkatrade Trophy Southern Section.


Recent results

Rovers have had a steady start to life in the Football League, picking up four points from four games, leaving them 19th in the table at this early stage.

On the opening weekend, FGR were held to a 2-2 draw by Barnet. Christian Doidge had scored twice to give them a 2-0 half-time lead, before the London side fought back.

They were then eliminated in the first round of the Carabao Cup, in their first appearance in the competition. MK Dons went through with a 1-0 extra-time victory.

They suffered a first league defeat at Mansfield Town 2-0, before securing their first ever Football League victory against Yeovil Town.

The Green Devils had been 3-1 behind in that game, but fought back to seal the victory with a spirited second-half comeback.

In their most recent game, Rovers were humbled by Colchester United 5-1.


Summer signings

Manager Mark Cooper and Chairman Dale Vince have been working hard on trying to put together a squad capable of challenging in both league and cup competitions, bringing in 12 additions and letting the same amount leave the club.

The more notable additions have come in midfield, with Reece Brown and Charlie Cooper both joining from Birmingham City.

Striker Luke James has joined from Peterborough United, with four central defenders joining the club.

Another key piece of business has been keeping hold of club captain Liam Noble and Newport-born striker Christian Doidge. Noble especially, had been wanted by ex-club Notts County. The Magpies had been willing to pay £100,000 for Noble but Rovers held firm to keep hold of their skipper.

Of their departures, Ethan Pinnock seems the more notable. The defender joined Championship side Barnsley at the start of the transfer window for an undisclosed fee.

Of the other departures, three players have moved to the National league, with the others still looking for clubs.


Team news

The Green Devils have a clean bill of health with no suspensions or injuries.

However, midfielder Omar Bugiel, scorer of the winner in Rovers 4-3 win against Yeovil, will miss the game after being called up to the Lebanon squad for their Asian Cup encounter against North Korea.

Bugiel was named as a substitute at the weekend, so Forest Green could name an unchanged starting team for our encounter.

That side appeared to be set up in a 5-2-3 formation, with the team as follows:

B.Collins, Iacovitti, Roberts, Bennett, Laird, L.Collins, Cooper, Noble, James, Doidge, Brown


Recent results

One to watch – Christian Doidge

Age: 25

Position: Striker

Goals this season: 3

Previous clubs: Barry Town, Carmarthen Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Dartford

Doidge has successfully accustomed to a return to the Football League.

He has three goals so far this term, all coming at the New Lawn. He scored two in the opening day draw with Barnet, before netting in the 4-3 victory over Yeovil Town.

This all comes after a scintillating debut season with Rovers, scoring 27 goals, the second highest in the National League.

His previous Football League experience came with Dagenham & Redbridge, where he scored 10 goals in 46 games.


Previous meetings

A trip to the New Lawn is familiar territory for County.

In fact, County have been there on four occasions, remaining unbeaten, with two draws and two defeats.

The last of those visits came on Boxing Day 2012, with County winning 2-1. After falling behind early in the second half, Ben Swallow scored directly from a corner to level the scoring. A stunning run and goal from Ryan Charles secured victory for County, although FGR did exact revenge six days later with a 5-0 victory at Rodney Parade.

The Exiles have also met Forest Green Rovers in the non-league equivalent of this competition (FA Trophy.)

After a 0-0 draw at Spytty Park, County edged the replay 2-0. That started a cup run which ended in a day out at Wembley, although County lost 2-0 in the final against York City.


How the group stands

Swansea City U’21s currently top the group after beating Cheltenham Town 2-1 at Whaddon Road in the opening group fixture.

Midfielder Kyle Storer had given the Robins the lead in the 48th minute, unbelievably scoring directly from a corner-kick.

But the young Swans fought back to take the spoils.

Substitute Kenji Gorre scored the equaliser on 73 minutes, firing a 25-yard free-kick straight into the bottom corner.

Debutant Courtney Baker-Richardson fired home the Swans winner on 83 minutes, curling home from just inside the area.



Referee: Brett Huxtable

Assistant referee 1: Michael Webb

Assistant referee 2: Andrew Aylott

Fourth official: Craig Taylor

Huxtable is currently in his second season as a Football League referee.

He has officiated on four games already this season, the last of those coming in the 1-1 draw between Portsmouth and Walsall. Five yellow cards were given in that game, bringing his total for the season to 12 yellows cards and no reds.

Last season, his first in the Football League, saw Huxtable referee 38 matches. He gave out 140 yellow cards and brandished a further 5 red cards.

County connection

Huxtable has officiated County on six previous occasions. Of those games, County have won three and lost three.

2016/17 season

Last season, Huxtable refereed County on three occasions. The first of those came in the Exiles 2-1 defeat to Swansea City U’21’s in the Checkatrade trophy. Four yellows were given in that game, two to each side, Mark Randall and Jazzi Barnum-Bobb were booked for County.

He then officiated the 4-1 FA Cup win over Alfreton Town. Josh Sheehan was booked for County, in one of three yellow cards.

The final game last season came in the 3-1 defeat to Blackpool. Another four yellow cards were given out, three to County, Dan Butler, David Pipe and Scot Bennett all booked.

2012/13 season

Another three County games were officiated by Huxtable in the promotion season. The first came in County’s first competitive game at Rodney Parade, as the Exiles beat Nuneaton 4-0.

The second came in the 3-2 defeat to Woking. One card was given out to the visitors, none for County.

The final game was County 4-1 Macclesfield. Three yellow cards were given to the visitors.

The game with Forest Green Rovers will be the first time that Huxtable has refereed County away from home.


Can’t make the match?


You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via using the club’s official Facebook and Instagram pages.

As the game is a cup match, no live showing of this fixture will occur. However, commentary by Tim Thraves can be found on iFollow Exiles.

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