Three League games without a win and another tough (on paper) coming up. A familiar foe in the shape of our dear friends from Nailsworth. Here are some things to look out for:
1) The visitors (All Forest Green Rovers stats are League only)
Forest Green have had a good start to the season, battling out for a playoff spot and proving tough to beat. They have the joint fewest defeats in the division with MK Dons but trail the automatics due to their 9 draws from 16 games, the joint highest in the League with Mansfield. This bizarrely high number doesn’t mean there’s a lack of action, however. Both teams have scored in 88% of their games – the highest amount in League Two by a considerable distance. This figure rises to 100% on the road. Obviously, the positive there is that they’re hardly impenetrable but we’d be the 1st to stop them from scoring away from Nailsworth and only the 2nd in total (Stevenage managed a 0-0 draw in August).
I expected them to lack firepower without the irritatingly good Christian Doidge but, like a certain other team, a lack of a 25-goal-a-season striker is being made up for by goals all over the pitch. In October alone, Rovers have had 8 different scorers as well as benefitting from an own goal. Another interesting oddity I stumbled across was that Forest Green are yet to concede a goal in both halves of the game, something you may wish to bear in mind if, like me, you’re keen on ‘bet builders’. The times of goals, scored and conceded, for the visitors is interesting too. Dividing the game into 15-minute chunks, there’s a consistent increase as the game goes on. In the first 15, FGR games have only seen 4 goals, by the final section, the figure has risen to 10. So, who’s going to play Sean Raggett this time?
2) The foul count
Despite what some in Gloucestershire may tell you, Lincoln aren’t really a dirty team. We’re competitive and physical, no doubt, but the numbers don’t really back up the perception of us. So far this campaign, the Imps have committed 240 fouls. Opposition teams have committed 266. That’s a difference of 1.3 per game. There’s a far more clear-cut margin when it comes to yellow cards. We’ve picked up 23 in our 20 games while opposing teams have accumulated over double that (47).
I’m led to believe by Forest Green’s local press that they’re beacons of virtue, it might be interesting to see if that plays out.
3) Matt Green
As Gary highlighted in his recent player reviews, Green has had limited opportunities thus far. That’s the way it can be when the team are playing a successful 1-striker system and you’re competing with a record signing and an in-form fan favourite. Green’s actually appeared in 90% of our games so far (as many as Toffolo) but only played 33% of the minutes, that really drives home the fact he’s only really had cameos.
At the 20 game mark, he has the best minutes per goal contribution in the squad (128) and we’ve scored more frequently with him playing than either Akinde or Rhead. You could argue that these stats are propped up on his early spurt and he’s not had the desired impact off the bench. However, I think there’s more to come from him and it’s important to understand the difficulties a striker can have without a run of games.