Preview: Gateshead test next for Rovers
The longest away trip of the season awaits Forest Green this weekend as Rovers head north to take on Gateshead (3pm).
It’s all set to be a testing outing on Saturday at the International Stadium as in form Gateshead look to stop a Rovers side in decent form themselves from recording three consecutive away wins in the north east.
Forest Green’s last two visits to the Heed have proven to be crucial in picking up wins that played a key role in securing a play-off finish in back-to-back seasons. Mark Cooper will be hoping a good result on his teams travels this time round will be important again.
When the two teams met earlier on in the season it was only the third fixture of the campaign. Dale Bennett’s late goal stole the points for FGR’s first win of the season that day.
Kick-off for FGR’s eighth ever visit to the International Stadium is at 3pm on Saturday.
Fabien Robert and Marcus Kelly will again miss out through injury. Rob Sinclair will make his hundredth league appearance for the club if selected.
Omar Bugiel will also be pushing for his first start after scoring on his debut as a substitute last weekend against Boreham Wood.
Gateshead are 8th after 32 games heading into the weekend and are four points off the final play-off spot.
The Heed Army are looking to seal a place in the top five – having last achieved the feat in the 2013-14 season when they finished third and beat Grimsby in the play-off semi-finals to get to Wembley where they eventually succumbed in the final, losing 2-1 to Cambridge United.
They go into Saturday in good league form. They’ve won three of their last five league games including a televised victory at Chester last time out.
In the dugout
Neil Aspin was appointed manager of the Heed in November 2015. The 51-year-old previously took charge of FC Halifax for six years, leading the Shaymen into the fifth tier with several promotions along the way.
As a player he was a defender who made over 600 appearances in spells at Leeds and Port Vale as well as stints at Darlington and Hartlepool United.
Wearing the gloves
Gateshead have recently moved to bring in highly rated goalkeeper James Montgomery from AFC Telford United. The 22-year-old is one of the hottest goalkeeping prospects outside of the Football League having started his playing days in the academy at Middlesbrough.
They’ve also got ex-Carlisle and Hereford United keeper Dan Hanford as part of their squad.
Former Wrexham duo Jamal Fyfield and Manny Smith are regulars in their back line. 28-year-old centre back Liam Hogan worked with boss Neil Aspin at FC Halifax and became a Gateshead player at the beginning of the season after leaving Tranmere.
Another former FC Halifax defender, James Bolton, can be expected to line up on the right hand side. Meanwhile on the left they’ve got former Barnsley youngster George Smith.
Saturday’s opposition have recently brought Tom Beere in on loan from AFC Wimbledon. He adds to their central midfield options that already include Paddy McLaughlin and Gus Mafuta.
Former Bristol City youngster Mitch Brundle also offers versatility for them all over the pitch, while on the flanks they could opt to use Toby Ajala or former Nuneaton Town man Wes York.
The speedy Danny Johnson will offer a goal scoring threat this weekend. The former Cardiff youngster has an excellent goal scoring record since joining the Heed in July 2015.
Their squad also includes ex-Morecambe front man Jordan Burrow and pacey 20-year-old Nyal Bell.
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Fans booked on the supporters’ coach for Saturday’s trip can board the coach at these times on the day:
- The New Lawn at 7am
- Sainsbury’s at 7.15am
- Brunel Way, Stonehouse at 7.30am
Those making their own way by car to the International Stadium can use the postcode NE10 0EF for sat-nav systems. There is parking at the stadium.
Bob Hunt will be live on the radio for full match commentary on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Tune in just before kick-off to hear coverage of the 90 minutes online and on the BBC Sport app.
Live updates will also be available on Twitter by following @FGRFC_Official. Check out team news, match updates and live photos from the match throughout the afternoon.
After the game visit the club website to read the club’s match report looking back on the clash.