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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Forest Green Rovers vs Wrexham

Back to league action with a trip to the south west.

8 December 2023

Match Previews

PREVIEW | Forest Green Rovers vs Wrexham

Back to league action with a trip to the south west.

8 December 2023


After the diversion  of a pair of cup ties, Wrexham return to the league at Forest Green looking to get a third unbeaten run of the season going.

Tuesday's defeat at the hands of Burton Albion bears little relevance to this match, besides acting as an audition for players hoping to break back into the league team. Since the disappointing defeat at Accrington, we've responded well with 2 wins and a draw which ought to have been another victory. Phil Parkinson will want to build on those performances, having seen us previously respond to league defeats with runs of first 10 and then 11 games without defeat.

Aaron Hayden's injury on Sunday appears to be the main new concern for Parkinson: if he isn't available, the manager will have to decide whether to draft in a specialist at the back or stick with the trio which played the last 75 minutes on Sunday, meaning George Evans' spot in midfield will have to be filled.



Rovers' last week was dominated by an unwanted story. On Friday their FA Cup tie at Blackpool was dramatically postponed when the FA announced it was conducting an investigation into the League Two side. More information emerged later, confirming that the club was accused of selecting an ineligible player in its first round victory over Scarborough. Rovers will have to replay the game, meaning they have suddenly run into an unexpected fixture build-up. If they can beat Scarborough again, then they will have to play 8 games in December, heaping pressure on a squad which needs a stroke of luck.

Rovers are also enduring an unhappy time on the pitch. They are currently second bottom of the league, albeit with a game in hand on the teams around them, and have the worst home record in the division: they've achieved 2 wins and a draw from 11 home matches, and have the leakiest home defence in League Two, having conceded more than 2 goals a game on average. Their poor home form extends back further than this season: of their last 39 games at The New Lawn, they've won 7, drew 4 and lost 28. 

“Collectively it is a lack of quality at the moment. That has been the story of our season, we showed little glimpses. Most of the performance was good, but we did not win.”

-Forest Green manager David Horseman after losing to Bradford City.

Rovers suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bradford City in their last league match, the second time they've endured that scoreline at The New Lawn this season. Coming hot on the heels of relegation last Summer, it all adds up to a miserable time for David Horseman's team.

Horseman was appointed in the Summer, having previously been a key member of the coaching staff at Southampton, with Rovers chairman Dale Vince excited by the energy and innovation he promised to bring to the job. Vince told Gloucestershire Live: "We’re delighted to have David join as our Head Coach, he brings a wealth of experience and a modern approach to the game which matches our own - and he very much stood out from over 100 applicants for the role."

He had little time to work with his team before the season began though, as his predecessor, Duncan Ferguson, left the day before the first game of pre-season. Ferguson had been appointed in January, with Rovers marooned at the bottom of League Two, and was unable to make a difference. Forest Green enjoyed just one win and three draws in 18 games under him and remained rooted to the foot of the table. 

Ferguson continued in the role during the Summer, and players were added to the squad during that period, but the Everton icon departed suddenly, severely disrupting Rovers' preparation for the season. Horseman inherited a tricky situation, and has worked hard to shift the momentum. Quality and experience was added to the squad with the eye-catching capture of Troy Deeney, and when he struck his first goal for the club to earn an impressive point at AFC Wimbledon in late August, a result which was followed up with a win at Sutton, it looked like things were starting to turn around. However, a horrible run of 6 losses made it clear that there was much work to be done in the scramble for survival.

Horseman's frustration showed in his post-match comments to Gloucestershire Live after the Bradford defeat:

“The goals are so poor that you do not give yourself any chance and then at the other end we are not clinical at all and again it is not about an individual unit it is about attackers not doing their job in our box and there are defenders not tapping them in the other box.

“All of a sudden you come to today and we do not score a lot of goals, you have got Troy Deeney who is an excellent player and had a brilliant career and is doing really well for the team, but Tyrese Omotoye has got four goals in 56 games and then the next one that we have got available at the moment is a 17-year-old.”

“I thought they were physically really strong and have some good players for the level, but I do not think there is anything in the game, I do not honestly and then you look at the chances across the 90 minutes.

“We go round the goalkeeper and miss an open goal, we have a tap-in from two yards that Bunks (Harvey Bunker) should just flick into the goal and he goes to kick it and it goes the wrong way and then Jordan Moore-Taylor has one from six yards.”

“A massive apology to the supporters because it is obviously not good enough and particularly the manner of the goals that we concede are such poor goals, you give yourself no chance in the game.”


Our last match at The New Lawn, in March 2017, was a horrible experience as a relegation-threatened Wrexham crashed to a 3-0 defeat. Rovers were enjoying a season which would end in promotion, but found Dean Keates' side to be stubborn opposition and didn't score until the 45th minute following a remarkable goalmouth scramble. A bad-tempered match threatened to boil over as the yellow cards accumulated, and Wrexham were livid when a late challenge on Luke Summerfield by Liam Noble looked like a straight red but wasn't punished by referee Sam Allison. Noble went on to notch a penalty, and Christian Doige completed the scoring with a superb lob. Rovers would have scored plenty more were it not for an inspired performance in Wrexham's goal by Chris Dunn.

The season before we played out another fiery affair, with Blaine Hudson and Connor Jennings each receiving red cards within the space of 3 second half minutes. However, an heroic rearguard action meant we emerged with a goalless draw.

In September 2014 we prevailed thanks to magnificent long range strike from Louis Moult. There seemed to be no imminent threat when Wrexham were awarded a free kick a good 30 yards out on the left flank, but Moult's magnificent strike gave ex-Wrexham keeper Sam Russell little chance, and ranks as one of our finest goals in the National League. 

We rounded off the 2013-14 season with a 1-1 draw at New Lawn. James Norwood gave the home side an early lead as he tucked away a one-on-one chance, but they had issues at the other end: Russell went off injured in the 65th minute, and his replacement clumsily fouled Brad Reid in the last minute, allowing Johnny Hunt to equalise from the spot.

We won on our first three visits to the club, including our first trip there back in February 1991 when Forest Green were known as Stroud FC. It was for a Welsh Cup tie which we won 2-1 thanks to goals from Chris Armstrong and Gareth Owen, who were just breaking into the side then.

We followed that win up with two memorable victories for Dean Saunders. Our next trip to Forest Green in October 2008 was his first game in charge of Wrexham and ended in a dramatic 3-2 win. Saunders decided to throw Marc Williams, previously neglected by Brian Little, into the starting eleven and the striker repaid him with two goals as well as the goal-bound strike which led to the last minute winner, which Jeff Louis poked over the line.

The following season Saunders again profited from a surprise choice up front., He threw Wes Baynes, previously used as a wing back, into the attack and again his intuition was rewarded with two goals as Baynes’ strikes inspired the side to a 2-0 win.

We then went on a run of two defeats there, failing to score on either occasion. Saunders’ happy run ended abruptly with a 3-0 defeat in the second game of the 2010-11 season, and the following season we suffered a different kind of frustration when an injury time penalty offered us a chance to snatch a 1-1 draw but Dean Keates’ spot kick was saved by Sam Russell, who just doesn't seem able to avoid the limelight in this fixture.



Max Cleworth’s 75th Wrexham game.


Sam Dalby’s 75th Wrexham match.


Tom O’Connor’s 50th league match for Wrexham.

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