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Forest Green Rovers: The EFL's newest club

Posted: Tue 16 May 2017
Author: EFL
Christian Doidge 8x6

Christian Doidge

Image by: Scott Heavey/EMPICS Sport

The EFL will welcome a brand new club to the 72 next season... Forest Green Rovers.

On Sunday 14th May, at Wembley Stadium, the club emerged victorious from the National League Play-Off Final, and will now take their place in Sky Bet League Two in 2016/17.

So, what can we expect from the league's new boys? Let's take a look...

The club – in brief

Name: Forest Green Rovers
Known as: The Little Club on the Hill
Founded: 1889
Stadium: The New Lawn (5,147 capacity)
Location: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire (5,800 population)
Time spent in The National League: 19 years
Need to know: No meat pies for away fans – the club is 100% vegan!

The players

Leading the line, Christian Doidge was the club's top goalscorer in his debut season at The New Lawn, hitting 27 goals, including the decisive strike in the 3-1 Play-Off Final win against Tranmere Rovers.

After finding the net just four times in his first 14 outings, the powerful number nine found his feet, adding a remarkable 23 goals in the 29 matches that followed.

Doidge had played for Dagenham & Redbridge in League Two, and the squad has plenty more EFL  experience in its ranks. Take Liam Noble, for example.

The 26-year-old made more than a century of appearances for Carlisle United, and a further 70 league outings with Notts County. Calm and composed in the midfield, the captain has been a major influence in helping the club secure promotion.

Keanu Marsh-Brown has proved a threat out wide, causing problematic for opposition full-backs, and the former Oldham, Yeovil and Barnet winger reached double figures in the goals column.

Behind them, Dale Bennett has been a model of consistency at the back in his four-and-a-half years at Forest Green. He's played with Watford in the Championship, Brentford in League One and AFC Wimbledon in League Two, and now comes his chance for another crack at the latter.

The manager

Mark Cooper quickly built up a glowing reputation in non-league circles with Tamworth and Kettering Town, and earned himself a shot at the Championship with Peterborough United.

That stint was brief, and he moved back outside the EFL, before Swindon Town came calling. At the County Ground, Cooper took the Robins to eighth in his first season, and followed that up with a Wembley visit in 2014/15, where they lost the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final to Preston North End.

Following his spell there, Cooper was successful during a short-term deal at Notts County, but he opted to move on. A year later, and he's back in the EFL with Rovers.

2016/2017 – in brief

Played (all competitions): 54 games
League position: Third – 86 points
Scored: 88 – a league-high
Most appearances: Sam Russell (goalkeeper) – ever-present
Top goalscorer: Christian Doidge – 27 (all competitions)