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Club News

EYE ON THE OPPOSITION | Forest Green Rovers (H)

14 October 2022

Club News

EYE ON THE OPPOSITION | Forest Green Rovers (H)

14 October 2022

This Saturday the Vale welcome last years Sky Bet League Two champions, Forest Green Rovers, to Vale Park as both promoted sides lock horns for the first time in the third tier.

Rovers have had a tough start to their first season at League One level, and after 13 matches in the division, they sit in 21st on 11 points.

After a first league win in over a month last Saturday against Bolton Wanderers, the Gloucestershire side faced Peterborough United on Tuesday night and were put to the sword by the Posh, losing 4-1.

However, Vale will be full of confidence after a fabulous 2-1 comeback win away at Derby County last weekend, their first win away to the Derbyshire side since 1923.

These two teams have had some tasty clashes in recent years, and before they step foot on to the Vale Park turf to face each other once again, here is what you need to know about Rovers.

ONE TO WATCH: Connor Wickham

Many people would have been surprised to see former Premier League striker Connor Wickham sign for FGR, but what a deal it has proved to be so far for both the player and the side from Gloucestershire.

Wickham joined the team from Nailsworth on a short-term deal in the summer after spending the back half of last season at MK Dons.

The 29-year-old forward started his career at Ipswich Town at just 16 years of age, impressing during his three years with the club, netting a total of 15 times.

His good form in East Anglia earnt him a lot of interest from top-division clubs, and in 2011 the striker made the move up North to then Premier League side Sunderland.

After two years at the club, Wickham went to Sheffield Wednesday on a two-year loan, before returning to the club and scoring some important goals for the Black Cats including a brace away at Manchester City, and the first goal in a famous win away to Chelsea in 2014.

In 2015, the 6ft 3 striker moved from the northeast down to London, signing for Crystal Palace on a five-year deal, but an injury-ravaged time in the capital meant that he could only manage 50 appearances in his six years at the club.

Short stints followed at Preston North End, and MK Dons before Wickham made the move to Gloucestershire to sign for Rovers.

So far, the move has worked out brilliantly, with five goals in eight league appearances the forward has got his career back on track in the southwest.

THE MAN AT THE HELM: Ian Burchnall


After Rob Edwards left Rovers for Championship Watford in the summer, Ian Burchnall was appointed manager of the League Two Champions after just over a year at Notts County.

The Leicester-born boss started his coaching career whilst at the University of Leeds, becoming part of the coaching staff at the academies of Leeds United and Bradford City.

Burchnall then made the move overseas, which has been a common trend in the young manager’s career, when he became the assistant manager for Brian Deane’s Sarpsborg 08 in Norway.

Time at Viking as Assistant manager, and then as manager followed before he became Graham Potter’s successor at Ostersund in Sweden.

The 39-year-old showed his managerial credentials in Sweden, and after stepping down from the job and taking some time out from the game, Burchnall returned to the sport in 2021 by taking over National League side Notts County.

In his one season at the Nottinghamshire side, he managed to get them into the playoffs, but unfortunately for Burchnall and his former side, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual winners Grimsby.

Now sitting in the dugout in Gloucestershire, Burchnall will be hoping he can oversee an upturn in form for Rovers, but the Valiants will be looking to delay that plan on Saturday.

STADIUM: The Bolt New Lawn


The smallest stadium in the division, FGR play their football out of the Bolt New Lawn in Nailsworth.

Built-in 2006, the stadium has hosted Forest Green’s football since its opening, and the record attendance Rover shave managed to pull in is 4,836.

The maximum capacity of the New Lawn is just 5,147, but its most famous feature is that 25% of its electricity is run by solar panels on the roof of the ground.

We will be visiting Nailsworth on New Year’s Day, but will first have to contend with Rovers at Vale Park on Saturday.


Vale wins: 2

Draws: 3

Forest Green wins: 0

The Valiants have not lost to this weekend’s opponents, coming out on top twice out of the last five fixtures, with three draws also occurring.

One of those wins was away to Rovers last season, with a Jamie Proctor brace securing the three points for Vale.

Darrell Clarke will be looking to build on the result last weekend by beating FGR, and a performance like the one at the Bolt New Lawn last season will be needed in a tough clash.


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