Vanarama National League
Forest Green Rovers v North Ferriby United
Saturday 1 April 2017
Ferriby make their first-ever visit to Nailsworth on Saturday to play Forest Green Rovers. The Villagers will go into the match knowing that anything but a win will probably mean that relegation will become unavoidable, although not mathematically certain.
The recall of keeper Rory Watson by parent club Scunthorpe United is a blow to Ferriby at such a crucial stage of the season. he has been outstanding for The Villagers in a difficult season. Rory’s performances earned him a three year contact at Scunthorpe.As Ferriby do not have an experienced keeper, the National League has agreed that the club can sign a replacement keeper, should one be avaialable, even though the transfer deadline has passed.
Last Saturday’s trip to Sutton United was a nightmare all-round. Accidents on the trip down delayed the arrival and the team did not arrive until 40 minutes, rather than the planned 90, before kick-off. That is not ideal preparation for such a crucial game. It does not wholly explain the heavy defeat but it was clearly a factor.
That was not the end of the problems. The coach broke down 30 minutes in to the return trip and it was five hours before it was repaired. The coach rolled in to Ferriby at 4.30 on Sunday morning, some 20 hours after leaving on Saturday morning!.
Midweek results this week did not go in Ferriby’s favour and The Villagers are now 10 points from safety with just six games to play. It may now be “mission impossible” but there is confidence and spirit in the squad.
The run-in to the end of season is tough with three long away trips to Forest Green, Barrow and Torquay and home games against Boreham Wood, Eastleigh and Aldershot. Only Torquay are within catching distance of Ferriby.
Commenting after Saturday’s game Housham said,
“Once again, I couldn’t fault the players effort. We started each half well and Robbie’s goal just after half-time certainly lifted us. Unfortunately their fourth goal deflated us and we just could not back in to the game.
“The average age of today’s team was just 21. It’s amazing that they are generally competing with most teams in this league when you consider the lack of experience.”
Midfielder Robbie Tinkler spoke after the match at Sutton,
“I think we have to be tougher as a team all over the aprk. I think we can all agree we have been letting in soft goals and as a unit we must be better if we want to win games.
“Housham has reinforced what I said, we need to be harder to beat aas a team and make sure we keep fighting until the end of the season and make sure we give a good account of ourselves.
“I’m over the moon to have got off the mark. I was panicking in case I didn’t get a goal. I hope i can add to the two I’ve now got.”
Forest Green made the headlines recently for reportedly losing £5,000,000 pounds over the previous two seasons as they chase a place in the Football League. Their wage bill dwarfs Ferriby’s and exemplifies the disparity that exists in budgets between clubs in the division.
Rovers have won 11, drawn eight and lost one of their home games. It is the relatively high number of draws that will give Ferriby some hope. Rovers have scored 42 goals at home and conceded 22. Christian Doidge is easily their main goal-threat but they have players throughout the team who can score.
Forest Green led the league earlier in the season but have dropped back to third place, just one point behind both Lincoln City and Tranmere Rovers. They should secure a play-off spot at the very least and will obviously be eager for all three points on Saturday.
Rovers won the reverse fixture 3-0 at the Eon Visual Media Stadium in October but it was not quite as comfortable as the scoreline indicates. “Rovers’ manager Mark Cooper perhaps summed-up the game,
“There was no atmosphere and no tempo. It’s the worst we’ve played. I had to keep changing my formation. This is a difficult place to come to so I’m happy with three goals and a clean sheet, though the score was perhaps harsh on Ferriby.”
Housham knows that Saturday’s match will be difficult,
“They [Forest Green] have been up at the top of the table all season. They have a good home record with just one defeat and they have a large and experienced squad. That experience helps in tight games but we will go there believing we can get something from the game.
“It’s not looking good when you see the bottom of the table but we are still in with a shout even if it needs something of a miracle. I know my players will keep battling”
Housham will welcome the return of Taron Hare to the squad following his three game suspension. However he is going to be without Ryan Kendall, Ross Armstrong, Simon Russell, Steve Brogan and Curtis Bateson. All five look likely to miss the rest of the season.
Such is Ferriby’s injury situation that the club signed eight of its academy players on National League forms prior to last week’s deadline. Three of them, Tom Bolton, Kojo Kyei and George Bell were on the bench and Kyei and Bell made second-half appearances as substitutes.
Ferriby from: Jordan Douglas, Sam Topliss, Ben Middleton, Jake Skelton, Mark Gray, Ryan Fallowfield, Connor Oliver, Danny Emerton, Matty Templeton, Darryn Stamp, Curtis Bateson, Reece Thompson, Jordan Cooke, Sam Cosgrove, Robbie Tinkler, Matty Dixon, Tom Bolton, Kojo Kyei, George Bell