Weblog: The football punter

Attacking approach can see Forest Green qualify

Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Monday

Forest Green defended with intelligence to restrict Tranmere to a 1-0 victory at Prenton Park on Friday and they have a great chance of turning the tie around at home.

In normal circumstances Tranmere would have been happy to establish a single-goal first-leg lead.

However, they were given a massive leg up when Forest Green defender Gavin Gunning was red-carded in the 15th minute but they failed to take full advantage.

Eleven minutes after the dismissal, Tranmere got their noses in front thanks to a stunning strike from Ollie Banks.  But they wasted several chances to extend their lead and the main culprit was former Forest Green striker James Norwood, who topped the League Two scoring charts this season with 29 goals.

Norwood is unlikely to get as many sights of goal in Gloucestershire because Forest Green, relieved at their first-leg reprieve, will be planning a more attacking approach.

Pacy forward Junior Mondal, substituted as a consequence of Gunning's red card, will be back in the side.

And Tranmere will be severely tested by the speed and trickery of attacking midfielder Reece Brown, one of the brightest talents in the fourth tier, and by the power of prolific centre-forward Christian Doidge, scorer of 14 goals in 25 league appearances this season.

Doidge is likely get a far better service in the second leg and he should be feeling confident having scored five goals in his last five appearances of the regular season.

Tranmere will have to prepare to do more defending and they are still without injured centre-backs Luke McCullough and Mark Ellis.

McCullough, on a season-long loan from Doncaster, was injured during the 3-0 success at home to Carlisle in late March which was Rovers' seventh win in a row.

He was absent for the rest of the run-in and Tranmere struggled, winning one, drawing three and losing three.

There may be a weakness in the Tranmere rearguard and Forest Green have the tools to exploit it.

Forest Green's home record of eight wins, nine draws and six defeats is the worst of the top-half teams and a cause for concern.

But Mark Cooper's side were 3-1 winners at home to Tranmere last October and they have a good chance of doing something similar and reaching a playoff final for the second time in three years.

Forest Green to qualify

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Match in Focus

15:00 Sa 25May SKY

Newport Co v Tranmere

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Newport are unbeaten in 12 matches.
Expert verdict
Michael Flynn’s Newport headed into the playoffs as the fourth tier’s form side, securing seventh spot by finishing the season ten games unbeaten. Tranmere will know all too well about County’s disciplined defensive, having failed to score in both league meetings with them and, even with James Norwood leading the line, they look vulnerable.