Dean Keates’ 25th game in charge sees us going in search of a third consecutive away win for the first time since December 2015.
Having re-discovered the ability to win away from home, we now need to remember how to keep clean sheets on the road. Last March we emerged from The New Lawn with a 0-0 draw despite having both Blaine Hudson and Connor Jennings sent off. However, since then we’ve played 22 away games and kept just 3 shut outs.
That heroic draw at Forest Green last season saw us survive a terrific late onslaught, and it was unusual that we held out as this fixture has a record of late goals. However, it’s generally us who have enjoyed a late game changer.
Forest Green’s only win at The Racecourse in nine attempts, in March 2012, was clinched in the fourth minute of injury time, but we’ve often hit them late.
Wes Baynes scored a last minute winner in December 2009, and in the previous season Jeff Louis scored a last minute winner to clinch a 3-2 win in Dean Saunders’ first game in charge, and hit an 86th minute goal to earn a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture.
The 2013-14 season ended with Hunt scoring an 86th minute penalty to earn a draw at The New Lawn in the last match of the campaign, and earlier this season Gerry McDonagh scored a memorable solo goal to clinch a 3-1 win in the 93rd minute.
Let’s hope we don’t get a repetition of the one that got away though. In January 2012, trailing 1-0 at The New Lawn, we won a penalty in the final minute, but were denied a point when ex-Wrexham keeper Sam Russell saved the spot kick. And who took it? A certain Dean Keates!
Aided by those late goals, we’ve a very impressive record against Rovers. We’ve won 9, drawn 6 and lost 3. However, if games only lasted 80 minutes, we’d have won 7, drawn 8 and lost 4!
Mark Carrington seems to have been reaching personal milestones with regularity in recent weeks, and he hits a big one tomorrow as he’ll be playing his 300th career match. Unusually in a squad which has seen so much upheaval, just over half of those games have been for us.
This is my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.