As the Valiants travel to Nailsworth in the FA Cup first round, we take a brief look at our Blue Square Premier opponents.
Man in charge
Former Blackpool, Swindon and Hull player David Hockaday is the manager. He began his coaching career in 1995 with Cirencester Town’s academy and then coaching for league sides Watford, MK Dons, Southampton and Wycombe. In 2009, he was appointed manager at Forest Green and has been in charge for 159 games, winning 54, losing 62 and drawing 43.
The two sides have not met prior to this game.
Man to watch
Ben Wright is a doubt for the game, but if he’s fit the six footer is bound to pose problems to Vale’s patched-up defence. Wright has done the rounds in the lower leagues with spells at Peterborough, Luton, Grimsby and Barnet before he signed for Crawley in 2009. He joined Forest Green in the summer after a prolific season for Braintree.
Forest Green have not been in the best of form recently. In their last six matches, their only victory was the FA Cup qualifying round replay win over Dartford. They’ve lost four out of those six including their last home game – a 2-1 defeat to Luton Town.
Vale will need to be wary of their opponents. In the last five seasons, Forest Green have knocked Football League sides Rotherham United and Rochdale out of the competition, and lost narrowly to Championship side Derby County.
Vale have exited the FA Cup at the first round stage on three occasions in the last twenty years. Last season, a Vale team wearing Grimsby’s away strip lost a replay at Blundell Park. In 2002, Vale lost to rivals Crewe and in 2000 the club infamously lost to Canvey Island. And we’d all rather forget the appalling second round defeat to Chasetown in 2006.
Craig Rocastle (right) may be one of the most maligned Port Vale players of recent seasons. Signed by Martin Foyle on a two-year deal as part of an extensive summer recruitment drive designed to win promotion, Rocastle’s only season at Vale instead ended in relegation. Rocastle was often criticised by fans for his performances and his contract was cancelled by mutual consent with one year still to run on it. After a spell in Greece, Rocastle joined Forest Green in 2009 and made 15 appearances before opting to switch to the USA and join Kansas City Chiefs. After his spell in the States, Rocastle is back in Greece playing for Thrasyvoulos in the Greek second division.
The Valiants have been sweating on a number of defensive injuries. It looks likely that rookie Joe Davis (right) will partner Clayton McDonald in central defence with Adam Yates playing in the right-back position. Richard Duffy (ankle), Gareth Owen (leg) and Doug Loft (calf) are all injured with John McCombe suspended. Jamie Collins will be missing for the home side while Ben Wright and Kieron Forbes are doubtful.
“We are pitting ourselves against a bigger team, a better team, so it’s going to be a good test for us. Though it’s just another game that we want to win – so we’ll approach the game totally respecting them and we’re looking forward to it.”
– David Hockaday
“They’ll be really up for it and will try to press us, so we have to match them in that respect. Their players will be looking forward to having a crack at League Two guys.”
– Tom Pope
Forest Green are owned by ecotricity owner Dale Vince who has instigated several “green” initiatives at the club. The pitch is mowed using a “robot” mower which collects its power from 180 solar panels installed around the stadium, while the pitch is said to be the first completely “organic” football pitch in the country.