Weblog: The football punter

Defensive problems may return for Rovers

Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Friday

This will have been the game that Mark Cooper looked for first when the fixtures were announced but it may not end well for the Forest Green manager against his former club Swindon at the New Lawn.

It's been a tough step up for Rovers since gaining promotion from the National League via the playoffs and there are no real signs of major improvement from the Sky Bet Football League newbies.

Forest Green have won once - 4-3 at home to Yeovil - but they have not looked like keeping a clean sheet and Cooper has lost his rag at silly individual mistakes on a weekly basis.

A 1-1 draw at Port Vale stopped the rot after four straight defeats but substitute Omar Bugiel's equaliser was their only attempt on target and the shot statistics highlight exactly how difficult Forest Green are finding life at a higher level.

Only Yeovil have a worse shot-ratio (share of match shots) record and no side have a worse shots-on-target ratio than Forest Green's 0.34.

The opposition are averaging six shots on Rovers' goal per game and unless Cooper's side tighten up they will be in big trouble.

It's been an inconsistent start for Swindon (four wins, three defeats and one draw) which is perhaps understandable given they started the season with virtually a new team and time will be needed for David Flitcroft to fully get his ideas across.

However, Swindon have responded well to the shock of losing successive home matches to Barnet and Crawley.

They beat Luton 3-0 at Kenilworth Road and were possibly unlucky to lose 1-0 at Notts County next time out before a 3-2 victory over Stevenage that was easier than the final scoreline suggested.

Dion Conroy's long-term knee injury is a real blow for Flitcroft, particularly as Swindon are not blessed with centre-backs anyway, but at the other end Luke Norris has smashed in six goals in nine outings this term.

Neither team convince at the back but Swindon's extra quality in the final third may prove telling.

Swindon draw no bet

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Match in Focus


C Palace v Liverpool

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Both teams have scored in 11 of the last 12 meetings.
Expert verdict
Liverpool served notice of their quality with a comfortable opening win over West Ham but Crystal Palace should put up stiffer resistance. Both teams played on the front foot in their respective opening victories and it would be no surprise if this Selhurst Park clash was full of goals