"For the benefit of the players, here are the names of the crowd"

This old joke was appropriate for the Forest Green fans for the first time at a match I have attended. I counted seven. Officially it was eighteen – God knows where they appeared from – perhaps the eleven on the pitch were included too?

A good, entertaining game and a deserved win, on the first cold football night of the season – heavens above, this is October – we’ve got six more months of this. The win seemed on the cards as soon as the first goal went in. 9-1 wouldn’t have flattered us, and if the ball had gone in with every shot as it did for the first half hour against Hayes earlier this year then we would have had double figures. Surreal isn’t it?

To be fair, I think this is the sort of result we should expect – such was the gulf in class between the two teams. What is more all six were good outfield goals – always a good sign that a team is playing well: the percentage of goals from open play.

So onto the team, and then a description of the Luton goals. First thing to note was, and, you are not misreading this – we played an unchanged team! Hurrah! The penny has dropped! Ten goals in two games with the same XI, there’s a message in there somewhere.

In goal was Mark Tyler. What can I say? He had so little to do in the game, his only exercise was in trying to outsprint Styche when he should have whacked the ball clear. A battle he was never going to win. Styche won the race, sold Tyler a dummy, tackled him, controlled the ball, and calmly placed the ball in the net at an acute angle. Nice finish. I suspect MT will get more ribbing due to the fact that in the end the goal counted for nothing than he would have done if we had lost because of it. To be honest from what I read and hear, he’s not been at his best over the last few games. However, that said, he’s still the best keeper we’ve had in a long time, everybody goes off form occasionally, and it isn’t costing us games.

At right back was Dan Gleeson. I think Dan is the weakest link in the defence at the moment. He was quite inspired at the start of the season, but is making too many errors at present. Flood (for that was his name) beat him on a number of occasions last night, on the few occasions they did get forward. As with Tyler – it doesn’t matter so much if the team is playing well, but these mistakes will otherwise lead to goals against better opposition. Pick your game up please Dan. Ed is waiting in the wings…there is only so many times he can put “what have I got to do to get a game” on his facebook profile before someone tells Mr Money. Frankly I don’t think Ed’s face fits with RM – Money made some dodgy comments about him last year I recall too. I suspect, unless he proves (or gets a chance to prove) that the right back berth should be his (which it should) before the end of the season he will be out of the door.

In the middle was Kroca and Pilks. The centre halves had more attacking to do than defending – Krocha often stayed forwards after a set piece, not that it did much good. He made one mistake at the back, but otherwise had a largely untroubled and unremarkable game.

Captain Pilks had a strange game for him too. Watching him closely in the first half, it struck me that he made more mistakes in this game than he normally does in half a season. By mistakes I mean, poor defensive headers that go straight to the opposition and passes that go out or to an opponent. Again, it didn’t really matter today. Get the mistakes out of the way in games like this, or rather in the first half of a game like this, because I think he was blemish-free in the second half.
He did hit the bar with a good header from a Drury corner shortly after we went one up – I seem to think he had another header sometime towards half time too.

On the left was the improving Freddie Murray. He had licence to get forward down the left and that he did, linking up well with AMS.

He had the ‘assist’ for the first goal, had a hand in the second, and was chopped down in the box for a penalty that wasn’t given. He also did a Sol Davis style tackle on one of the Forest Green team which earned him his first card of the season. He was also back on long throw duty but I think things have become confused at the club. In the first half a ball boy would pass the towel to Murray (the brown one this week) even in his own half, so he was able to take a nice defensive throw to his own player in his own half. Conversely in the second half the club didn’t have the nous to tell the ballboy to take his towel over to the other side and Murray had to take long throws with no towel or borrow one from the Luton bench (a white one, those stains’ll never come out). As it happens the long throws tended to miss the tall Luton players completely and he reverted to his normal style of foul-throwing at every opportunity.

On the right wing was Andy Drury scorer of the first goal, and set up the second. He tormented their left back, scuffed a shot and also blasted the freekick-that-should-have-been-a-penalty sky high and wide. He was subbed at half time – apparently him going off is now a point of mirth for the team. Good player to replace him though. Claude Le Goal, was more like Claude Le Tormenteur and spent the second half tormenting their poor left back McDonald. Claude is the perfect player to introduce as a sub – especially against tired defenders. He is the last thing some cloggy carthorse wants storming down the wing at you. What chance have you got to second guess what Claude is up to? He doesn’t know himself half the time.

He set up the fourth and fifth goals, blasted one shot wide and had another saved on the line. Not a bad effort for 45 minutes work. Appropriate really that he only had half a game, most of France has only been working for half the week this week, so perhaps it was fitting.

In the middle of the park were Keith Keane and Jakey Howells. Keane had a good game, charging opponents down- linking up the play and generally played intelligently. He drove a shot wide towards the end which was pretty much a gilt edged opportunity laid on by I think Jake had a quiet game for him (well he is out of position) apart from one cracking defensive tackle on half way to win the ball back. He didn’t lack effort though and worked hard in the middle.

He was replaced after an hour by Godfrey ‘on fire’ Poku – who showed welcome pace and presence in the middle and looked ‘well up for it’ to quote Jay from the Inbetweeners. He has a slightly rolling gait – he reminds me of someone, I don’t know who it is. He is clearly full of energy and raring to go. I wonder if he gets a start against his old club? Actually, knowing RM’s lack of sentimentality he probably won’t even be on the bench. Anyway – with us being a man down with Adam Murray off to Mansfield it doesn’t hurt to have another midfielder in there who in time might release dear Jake to go back onto the wing.

On the left was Amari Morgan-Smith who was so far forward most of the time he was virtually up front. He’s a strange lad – in one move he demonstrated that he only has a right foot as he bumbled down the touchline, but 5 minutes later popped up with an excellent left foot cross for Claude. See? You can do it. He tormented the right back (Hodgkiss I think) at will. One bit of brilliance was putting Claude in through the middle of the park with a defence-splitting pass which would have wowed the pundits used to commenting on the overpaid flouncers four divisions above.

Up front was Big Hips and Alice-band-free Danny Crow – presumably someone has already made the Sansom disconnection. Another start for Crow, another brace. Is that five goals in six starts now? Telegram for Mr Money, telegram for Mr Money…One other thing Danny Crow does is work very hard. He chases down the defenders like he is told to do and doesn’t give up. He is a real crowd pleaser. Even when he was crocked before he came off he was hobbling one minute and towering down on some hapless defender the next. Excellent effort Danny. His passing and vision were good too, especially his reverse pass for the first goal.

Alongside was MBH who now has a return of nine goals from 16 starts which is a great return for anyone. He does have his fair share of chances for those nine, but he is still getting them. Today was no different, he must have had half a dozen decent chances – I’m not going to list them all here but he did take his goal well. His interplay was much improved too and got plenty of crosses in. He fell out with Dan Walker towards the end as Walker (understandably) bore down on goal and shot, rather than passing to MBH – he got his own back a minute or so later snubbing Walker who was in a better position and had a go himself.

Speaking of Walker, he does add a crispness to the attack. His goal was a cracker, I might as well describe it here and then progress onto the others. He picked it up about 25 yards out and moved forwards unfettered by the oncoming defender and buried it beautifully into the corner of the net from approx 20 yards. Fantastic strike. He looks good. He is lively, tall and pacey. If he plays he will score I am sure. No more strikers please. We have plenty. Stick him on the bench every week and bring him in if someone gets a knock.

I’m aware I’ve missed out plenty of shots and action, but there were so many, and we were so dominant that it was hard to document and remember them all. There were two lulls in the game midway through both halves when the ball wasn’t brought down and played, but bobbed around in the middle or where the keepers took it in turns to whack it to each other. Other than that we were on fire and dominated and deserved every goal we got.

Onto the goals then. The first one took a bit of common sense from both the ref and Fred Murray. A lovely footballing move led to Murray who played the ball to Crow and who played it through for MBH who was offside and the flag was raised. Only MBH wasn’t offside because he didn’t touch it and Murray zoomed down the left and crossed it for Drury. Forest Green had all stopped, because of the linesman’s flag. But Drury hadn’t stopped, controlled it, took it past Bittner and it was a legitimate goal. Much to Forest Green’s anger and our delight. Well done ref, the sort of refereeing we need. Can we have that rub of the green in the playoff final please?

Keane played the ball down the left for Murray who took the ball down the wing for about 10 yards before playing a ball outside the defender into the path of Drury who drilled the ball across the face of the goal for Amari-Smith to bang in from 5 yards. 2-0. 2nd of hopefully very many for AMS – he hasn’t looked out of place by the step up in class from Ilkeston town.

The third goal after 34 minutes was a comedy effort strikers must dream of. The hapless Bittner punted it straight to Danny Crow who intercepted it half way in their half and then sprinted with it to the edge of the box and fired it past the keeper. 3-0.

I’ve mentioned Tyler’s mistake and so onto Hatters goal #4. A crossfield ball played to Claude down the right he hoodwinked McDonald the leftback, showed a neat turn of pace, cut inside and played the ball to Crow who finished took his chance well at the near post.

I’ve described Walker’s goal and so onto MBH’s – goal 5. On the edge of the box he played the ball to Gnapka who cut inside and rounded McDonald (you’ve read this before somewhere) and passed it back to MBH who slotted it home nicely.

The comedy moment of the night, apart from Tyler’s muff and Murray’s towel troubles? MBH falling on his arse when scoring the fifth goal right in front of the Kenny. He came up smiling.

Right – it’s bloody late, so I’ll post this now and be done with it.

Quick scores: Tyler: 5, Gleeson 5, Pilks 6.5, Krocha 6, Drury 7.5, Howells, 6.5, Keane 7, AMS 8, Crow 9, MBH 7. Claude 8, Walker 7.5, Poku 6.5.

Stalbans on Saturday, where, hopefully I will have the bar to myself for an hour like I did against Grays last year. Hic.


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