*BS*Dover Athletic vs Forest Green Rovers
Saturday 30th April 2016 – 5.30pm kick-off
Referee: Craig Hicks*BF*
Whites’ playoff spot was guaranteed last weekend – and with it, history was made. Chris Kinnear’s current crop have achieved the club’s highest ever league finish, surpassing the previous best sixth-placed finish in the 1999/2000 season.
In what has been one of the most memorable seasons ever, Whites fans will now be eagerly anticipating the playoffs and their chance to earn promotion to the Football League for the first time in the club’s history.
Despite Whites having booked their playoff spot already, this Saturday’s match against Forest Green Rovers is anything but a dead rubber – Kinnear’s men enter the weekend level on points with Grimsby Town, who face a tricky-looking trip to Tranmere Rovers on Saturday – meaning that if Whites can pick up all three points then they stand a real chance of finishing the season in third place.
That could turn out to be crucial – a third-place finish would mean the second leg of Whites’ playoff semi-final would be at Crabble, next Sunday, which would be a special occasion for both the club and Whites’ loyal supporters.
There was an extra twist in the tale this week – Forest Green Rovers, who are guaranteed to finish as runners-up in the division, sacked manager Ady Pennock on Wednesday. Intriguing timing considering the imminent playoff matches, however their poor form convinced chairman Dale Vince that a change at the top was needed to maximise their chances of winning promotion alongside local rivals Cheltenham Town.
Whites will know at the full-time whistle who their playoff opponents will be – currently, it could be any one of Forest Green Rovers, Grimsby Town or Braintree Town – and we will also know what order the home and away legs will be in.
Players and management alike have spoken recently about the confidence in the side to give anybody a game – leaving the discussion about who they would rather play, and in what order, to the supporters.
*IS*After Saturday’s game, the club will be holding their annual end of season awards evening in the Centre Spot, scheduled to take place between 8pm-9pm. We invite all supporters along to this free event to help us celebrate this season’s achievements thus far.*IF*
Name: Forest Green Rovers FC | Manager: Scott Bartlett (caretaker manager)
Ground: The New Lawn | Nickname: Rovers, FGR
Frank Gregan arrived as manager in 1994 taking the club to the Southern League Southern Division title in 1997 and into the Southern League Premier Division for the first time. The following year a showdown with Merthyr Tydfil in front of a record crowd of 2962 at the newly upgraded “Lawn” saw the Little Club on The Hill through to the Conference National.
Rovers were everybody’s favourites for relegation in 1999 but instead they went back to Wembley in the FA Trophy becoming the first club to appear in both the Trophy and Vase Finals, a sign of how far the club had come. The Trophy final was lost to Kingstonian 1-0.
Relegation was avoided in the last five minutes of the last game the following year, but in 2001, Rovers returned to the Trophy Final, this time losing to Canvey Island again by the only goal of the game.
A finish of 9th in the Conference was achieved in 2003 but this was then followed by further relegation battles up until 2006 when relegation was again avoided on the last day of the season.
Whilst the team were struggling on the pitch, ambitious plans were put forward in 2002 to move the Club to a new Football League standard ground 400 meters away, still in the hamlet of Forest Green. Planning permission was granted in 2005 and the new stadium was built over the next year, funded by the sale of the old ground for housing development. Carrying on a tradition set by supporters back in the 1950s the new stadium was painted from head to toe by supporters all on a voluntary basis.
The New Lawn was officially opened in September 2006 and the stadium hosted 4836 in January 2009 for the visit of Derby County in the FA Cup 3rd Round, with Rovers losing 4 – 3 to a last minute penalty.
Rovers’ highest placing in the Conference Premier is 5th (2014-15 season). They have been in the top flight of the non-league game since 1998, making them the longest serving club – a remarkable feat which many did not think would last one season.
Coming into the game, Whites have a record of three wins and three draws. Wins were picked up against FC Halifax Town (1-0), Altrincham (2-1) and Wrexham (1-0), with draws against Macclesfield Town (0-0), Grimsby Town (1-1) and Kidderminster Harriers (1-1).
Rovers’ record over the same number of matches shows four draws and two defeats. The draws came against Aldershot Town (0-0), Bromley (2-2), Wrexham (0-0) and Braintree Town (1-1), with defeats suffered to Woking (1-2) and FC Halifax Town (0-1).
*BS*HOME AND AWAY*BF*
At home this season, Dover have the fourth best record in the division, with thirteen wins and five draws from their 22 matches at Crabble.
Away from home this season, Rovers have the third best record in the division, with ten wins and eight draws accumulated from 22 matches on their travels.
14/11/2015: Forest Green Rovers 3-1 Dover Athletic
25/04/2015: Forest Green Rovers 0-0 Dover Athletic
22/11/2014: Dover Athletic 0-0 Forest Green Rovers
*IS*Saturday 22nd November 2014
National League – Dover Athletic 0-0 Forest Green Rovers
Crabble has become quite the fortress in recent weeks and this continued into Saturday’s match against Forest Green Rovers as Chris Kinnear’s Dover Athletic clocked up another successful clean sheet and well deserved point against their Gloucestershire visitors.
It could very well have been all three points for Whites after they pressurised for spells throughout the match, with Stefan Payne going closest to breaking the deadlock with a stabbed shot wide of goal in the second half, however both sides had to settle for a point each in what was an entertaining draw. *IF*
Richard Orlu will serve the third and final leg of his suspension, picked up following his dismissal against Macclesfield Town earlier in the month, so loanee Connor Essam can be expected to continue at centre-back in his absence. Sean Raggett will be assessed ahead of the game, having missed last weekend’s draw with Kidderminster Harriers.
Rovers had three first-team players go off injured in their last game – defender Dale Bennett, midfielder Sam Wedgbury and winger Anthony Jeffrey – so will be forced into changes.
Whites’ top scorer in the league is Ricky Miller with twenty goals, two ahead of Stefan Payne and six more than Nicky Deverdics.
Forest Green’s top scorer in the league this season is Jon Parkin, who has found the back of the net on thirteen occasions thus far.
The best place to see Saturday’s big game is at Crabble, but for supporters unable to make the game, our Live Text service on Twitter – @DAFCLiveText – will be running as usual.
*BS*VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE FIXTURES*BF*
*IS*Saturday 30th April, 5.30pm*IF*
Barrow v Wrexham (11th vs 8th)
Braintree v Altrincham (5th vs 22nd)
Bromley v Aldershot (13th vs 16th)
Cheltenham v Lincoln City (1st vs 12th)
Chester v Gateshead (17th vs 9th)
Dover v Forest Green (4th vs 2nd)
Halifax v Macclesfield (20th vs 10th)
Guiseley v Torquay (21st vs 18th)
Southport v Kidderminster (15th vs 23rd)
Tranmere v Grimsby (6th vs 3rd)
Welling v Boreham Wood (24th vs 19th)
Woking v Eastleigh (14th vs 7th)