Neilson unsurprised by Rovers’ promotion credentials

Alan Neilson
Alan Neilson

Town assistant boss Alan Neilson isn’t in the slightest bit surprised that tomorrow’s opponents Forest Green Rovers have enjoyed a sparkling start to the Blue Square Bet Premier season, writes Mike Simmonds.

Rovers, who finished 10th last season, have been at the top for spells this year, and despite losing their last three league matches, are still fifth, just two points behind Town.

Neilson said: “We knew with the players they brought in over the summer they’d be up there.

“They had a good run at the end of last season, they got five or six strikers in the summer who can score goals in this league.

“(Reece) Styche and (Magno) Vieria, Matty Taylor and the midfield players as well. They’ve got some good players and it shows in the start they’ve had.”

Neilson and manager Paul Buckle went to watch Rovers in action on Tuesday night as they bounced back to winning ways in some style with a 4-1 win at Dartford in the FA Cup.

He said: “It was an extra game for them, but sometimes games are better than training with the weather we’ve had.

“The lads have had a good rest this week, trained hard on Monday, trained hard on Thursday and have done a lot of tactical stuff.

“They had a game on Tuesday night which gave us a chance to look at the opposition.”

One of the opponents side needs no introduction to Town’s management or supporters, with Ed Asafu-Adjaye, spending over four years at Kenilworth Road.

Neilson continued: “Ed was here a long time, when I was a player here and also when I was a coach.

“He left in the summer, he couldn’t agree a contract here. He didn’t play on Tuesday night, I don’t know if he was left out because he was on four bookings or they changed their team around.

“He’s played left back and right back there, so has been moved about it but he’s a versatile type of player.”

Town are expected to have a bumper following behind them, with the club selling over 900 tickets as of this morning.

Being away from home could be a blessing in disguise for Town too, as with teams often putting 10 men behind the ball at Kenilworth Road, they might be able to exploit the extra space on offer.

Neilson said: “I think sometimes it’s harder when teams come and try and quieten the crowd.

“All teams come to us and say for the first 20-25 minutes, try and slow the game down, try and get the fans umming and ahhing to get the players a little bit nervy.

“But yet when you do go away from home, especially at Cambridge, they have to come out and attack us and when they do, bang we counter attack them.

“We scored one early goal, we got the penalty and got the goal in the second half. If you look at our away record in the league, we’ve won five and lost two. If we take that tally through the league won’t be too bad.

“We don’t really need to motivate the players. It’s a massive game. We’ll go there and their pitch is one of the best in the league and it should be a good football match played on the ground.”

Town’s last trip to the New Lawn ended in an embarrassing 3-0 defeat with then manager Gary Brabin shown the door soon afterwards.

Neilson was quick to downplay the significance of that result though, as he said: “They played well that night, we lost 3-0 and we didn’t turn up.

“We’ve got a different team this year, we’re turning up to go and get the three points.

“The last two games we’ve kept two clean sheets, we’ve won five out of six and are standing in good stead.”

The assistant is also backing striker Andre Gray to continue the fine form he showed in his impressive showing during the 2-0 triumph at Cambridge last weekend.

Neilson added: “Andre is so powerful and quick and he’s been working in training to look up and cut the ball back.

“He’s improving all the time and you forget Andre is still a young lad and is only 20-21 at times.”

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