'They're a high quality team'... Forest Green boss on Town visit

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The New Lawn, home of Forest Green Rovers - Credit: Forest Green Rovers FC

Ipswich Town travel to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday looking to pick up their first League One victory of the season. MIKE BACON takes a look at the opposition.

Forest Green Rovers players celebrate securing promotion after the Sky Bet League Two match at the M

Forest Green Rovers players celebrate securing promotion after the Sky Bet League Two match Bristol Rovers last season. League One is the highest level the club has ever played at. - Credit: PA

Who are ya?

It's not being disrespectful for Town fans to ask exactly who Forest Green Rovers are, or where they come from.

The two sides have never met in a competitive fixture and that's hardly a surprise. Gloucestershire-based FGR, despite being formed 133 years ago, have only been in the Football League since 2017, after they defeated Tranmere Rovers in the Conference play-off final at Wembley, earning promotion to League Two.

Since then, Forest Green have been knocking on the door of League One. In 2018/19 and 2020/21 seasons they lost in the League Two play-offs, before finally getting over the line last campaign, winning the title to secure a first-ever season in League One.

They are a currently highly successful football club who know how to win football matches.

This will be far from a cake-walk for Kieran McKenna's side.

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Former Notts County boss Ian Burchnall is head coach at New Lawn. He was appointed in May and has previously coached in Sweden and Norway.

He is expecting Town to  provide his side with a good test.

"When you look across the fixture list at some of the big teams in this league, Ipswich is one you can pick out," Burchnall said.

"They're a massive club. I think they had, what, 26,000 at their place on their opening game, an amazing atmosphere, I watched the game.. You can see the quality they have, they're a high quality team.

"Since Kieran McKenna has gone in there he's got them playing some good football, they're strong across the park, good without the ball, they press well.

"But with it they commit a lot of numbers forward, are very attack-minded and get a lot of bodies in the box when they create crossing opportunities."

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Forest Green new signing, Connor Wickham. - Credit: Forest Green Rovers FC

New faces, familiar faces

Ipswich Town could come up against a familiar face at New Lawn this weekend.

FGR completed the signing of former Town striker Connor Wickham this week on an initial deal until January.

The 29-year-old spent last season with League One play-off semi-finalists MK Dons.

Wickham began his career with Town, making 72 appearances and netting 15 goals in all competitions, before plying his trade in the Premier League with the likes of Sunderland and Crystal Palace, and had spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and Preston North End.

FGR also swooped this week to sign winger Sean Robertson. The 21-year-old started his career with Crystal Palace, and remained at Selhurst Park  until his departure this summer.

Green Forest Green

The Bolt New Lawn might look like any other football stadium, but at Forest Green, they do things slightly differently.

The entire club is powered by 100% green energy from Ecotricity, some of which the Club generates itself with the solar panels on their stadium roof and the solar tracker at the ground entrance.

The pitch is organic, sustainable and free from pesticides and weed killers, while the grass is cut with a GPS-directed, solar-powered lawnmower!

The Club collects rainwater that lands on the stadium and uses it to irrigate the pitch rather than using mains water and they have EV charge points, to allow sustainable travel to all games and provide electric car charge points at the ground.

And if Town fans were hoping for a steak and kidney pie at half-time, they can forget that.

The club is 100% vegan, serving Q Pies, plant-based burgers, spicy pasties, vegan fajitas and plenty more.

History made

Last week, FGR played their maiden game in League One and at the highest level the Club has ever been. And they began with a victory.

Regan Hendry scored a late winner as Ian Burchnall's side took all three points with a memorable 2-1 win at Bristol Rovers.

“It’s great, the first game in the Football League and it’s been a lot of hard work to get here," boss Burchnall said after the match.

What the bookies say

Town are favourites with all the bookies for this clash and you can understand why. However, Town have been hot favourites before many times last season against considered 'smaller' clubs, and not come up trumps. You can get quite generous odds for an FGR win, bearing in mind they are at home.

TOWN WIN: 21/20: FOREST GREEN WIN: 13/5: THE DRAW: 12/5

Did you know?

Forest Green Rovers are based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, four miles south of Stroud. Nailsworth is the smallest ever place to host an EFL club, with a population of just under 6,000.