Forest Green’s first-ever match with Brentford on Tuesday means there will only be four clubs in the current 92 who we have never met in a league or cup match. (If you want to guess who they are, the answer is lower down this article!)
And Rovers will arrive at the Brentford Community Stadium as the only Football League club with a 100% record from four matches this season (Harrogate have six points from two matches).
They opened the season with a 2-1 win over new boys Sutton and followed that up with two away wins in four days at Walsall (3-1) and Rochdale (2-1).
On Saturday, Nicky Cadden hit a hat-trick as they hammered Crawley 6-3, with the match having been level at 2-2 at half-time.
This is Rovers’ fifth season in the Football League, having been promoted from the National League via the play-offs in 2017 with Ethan Pinnock at the heart of their defence.
They finished 21st in their first season in League Two, only one point above the relegation zone, after failing to win any of their final three games.
But they then adjusted to the higher level by finishing fifth in 2018/19, before losing to Tranmere in the play-off semi-finals.
In the curtailed 2019/20 season, they were placed 10th, before last term Rovers once again suffered play-off semi-final heartache, this time after finishing sixth. They faced Newport and after losing the away leg 2-0, took the second leg to extra-time by opening up a 4-2 lead. However, County snatched a place in the Wembley final with a 119th-minute aggregate winner.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Rob Edwards landed his first permanent job as a Football League boss when he was appointed as Forest Green’s head coach at the end of May.
He left his role as head coach of the England under-16 team to take over at the New Lawn.
Rob was previously in charge of non-League AFC Telford and also had two games as caretaker-manager of Wolves, before becoming the club’s under-23 coach.
As a player, he was a centre-half and won 15 full caps for Wales during a career in which he played for Aston Villa, Wolves, Blackpool and Barnsley.
ROVERS IN THE CARABAO CUP
Forest Green have a modest record in the Carabao Cup, with two first round defeats and two second round exits so far.
On their debut in the competition in 2017/18, they lost 1-0 at home to League One MK Dons after extra-time, but the following season earned their first victory in the competition with a 1-0 triumph at Swindon. In round two, they took League One Wycombe to a penalties after a 2-2 draw, but lost the shootout 4-3.
They again reached the second round in 2019/20, when they were involved in two more penalty shootouts, both coming after goalless draws. Rovers came out on the right side of the first one – beating Championship Charlton 5-3 on spot-kicks at The Valley – but then came unstuck from the spot at Premier League Bournemouth, losing 3-0.
Last season no penalties were involved as they went out 2-1 at home to Leyton Orient in round one.
Rovers qualified for Tuesday’s tie after another penalty shootout, as they beat Championship Bristol City 6-5 on spot-kicks after a 2-2 draw.
Brentford reached the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in our history last season – with the highlight arguably being our quarter-final win over Newcastle.
BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Forest Green commentator Billy Hunt tells us what’s behind the League Two leaders’ start, the brand of football they play, and who to watch out for in the visitors’ line-up.
Q – Forest Green certainly haven’t suffered a play-off hangover so far. What’s behind their superb start to the season?
A – Rob Edwards has inherited a very good squad. The team that took them to the play-offs has hardly changed. Often when managers come in they need to fix a broken team. However there seems to be a new belief from both the fans and players that Rob Edwards is the answer for getting out of League Two.
Q – How much transfer business were they involved in over the summer?
A – Not much for a new manager. It was only around four new players, a few coming from Edwards’ connections with Wolves. Regan Hendry from Raith Rovers and Ben Stevenson have impressed.
Q – What changes has new manager Rob Edwards introduced since taking over in the summer?
A – Off the pitch he has built a connection with the fans which was lacking under Mark Cooper. In the press he gives full backing to the players no matter what, whereas last season some players seemed to be struggling with confidence at times. He seems to have fitted in perfectly with the club.
Q – How seriously are they taking the cup competitions this season – did they play a strong team in round one, for example?
A – They have a small squad anyway. They’re not in a position to play a completely different 11. Jamille Matt played all of round one despite being their best player. Goalkeeper Lewis Thomas, who was the hero in the penalty shootout against Bristol City, hasn’t started in the league but will probably play.
Q – The club has made huge progress since finishing 20th in the Conference in 2010/11 – what has been behind this?
A – A lot of focus will be on owner and green entrepreneur Dale Vince as he took over the club around then. Being stable off the pitch obviously helps, but he has backed managers with long-term contracts to try and be stable on it. Cooper had a five-year contract and was sacked only a few weeks short of this.
Q – What style of football do they play?
A – They like to play it on the floor but not as slow as building it up from the back like they were under Cooper. They play three at the back with the two wing-backs being influential putting the balls into the box.
Q – Which players should Brentford fans watch out for?
A – Jamille Matt is a proven goalscorer. If you leave him unmarked in the six-yard box, nine times out of 10 you’ll be picking the ball out of the back of the net. Ebou Adams is a delight to watch in the midfield.
Q – Finally, can you give me a possible starting line-up and formation please?
A – Thomas
Bernard Sweeney Cargil
Wilson Hendry Stevenson Cadden
DID YOU KNOW?
The four clubs in the current league structure who Brentford have never played, once the Forest Green game has taken place, are Fleetwood, Harrogate, Salford and Sutton.
Tickets are on general sale to any fan, not just season ticket holders or Bees members – details here.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME IF YOU CAN’T BE THERE
If you can’t get to the Brentford Community Stadium for Tuesday’s 7.45pm kick-off, there are various ways of following the game.
Radio – There will be reports on BBC Radio London.
iFollow – If you want Brentford commentary, iFollow audio coverage is available again this season via monthly or seasonal passes. Coverage starts half an hour before kick-off and is advert-free and on Tuesday night, Mark Burridge and Karleigh Osborne are your commentators.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Forest Green fans coming to the Brentford Community Stadium for the first time, there are plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
When at Griffin Park, Brentford was well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground. Three are still operating – The Griffin is closest to the old away end and has always been very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and has also been popular with away fans. The Brook pub is the other option if you want to be around what is left of our old home.
From the New Inn, you can walk down Green Dragon Lane and then turn left on to Kew Bridge Road where you will find the Express Tavern – an ale pub with a retro feel. If you sit in the garden, you can see our new stadium towering over you.
Across the road is One Over the Ait – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge. This pub is situated on the location of the now-demolished Oxford & Cambridge pub where Brentford Football Club was founded in 1889.
Cross the bridge and there are two pubs on Kew Green – the Cricketers and the Greyhound.
North of the river along well-to-do Strand on the Green, you will find The Steam Packet, in an old Cafe Rouge, The Bell, City Barge and the Bulls Head – two pubs side-by-side in which you would often see Ant and Dec hanging out.
There is also The Pilot – close to Gunnersbury station.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about one minute walk from each other …. frequented by “away fans in the know”. And there are plenty of other pubs in and around Brentford High Street.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields.
The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off the tube at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe). There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave) – right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
If you decide to get off at South Ealing station, we’ve heard a few people pop into Roddy’s Bar. If you like your craft beer, another fairly new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road, which is fairly busy before and after the match. There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river.
Getting to Brentford from town – get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) and then take the Overground train to Kew Bridge, which is right by the stadium.
You can also get the tube to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (even less from Paddington) on the Piccadilly Line. The stadium is around 25 minutes’ walk from South Ealing or you can get on the 65 bus across the road which will drop you almost outside. You can also pick up the 65 from Ealing Broadway.
You can also walk to the stadium from Gunnersbury station, but note that it is closed for entry for one hour after the match.
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.