Mark Cooper reveals naked truth after Covid-19 hit Forest Green defeat Stevenage

Mark Cooper's Forest Green were 1-0 winners over Stevenage
Mark Cooper's Forest Green were 1-0 winners over Stevenage - (Copyright PA Archive)
19:11pm, Sat 17 Oct 2020
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Forest Green head coach Mark Cooper threatened to run the gauntlet naked after his Covid-19 ravaged side recorded back-to-back victories to underpin their unbeaten start to the season.

Rovers were dealt a pre-match blow when an unnamed player was diagnosed with coronavirus and three other players were forced to self-isolate

Rookie teenage striker Jake Young grabbed his first goal in the Football League with a sumptuous strike after 23 minutes in a game devoid of chances.

Bereft of four frontline starters, Cooper joked he would run around Forest Green devoid of his club apparel if they could pull off a win.

However, he said: “I’m definitely not. It would put a few people off their dinner, that’s for certain.”

The Covid positives meant that Cooper had to make tweaks to his squad, and he said: “It was late in the week so we had no preparation really.

“We had a training session yesterday evening as we were waiting for test results and we’ve thrown a team together.”

Despite the last-minute changes to his squad, Cooper believed that his players did remarkably well given the unfortunate circumstances.

“I’ve got to say though that the boys that played were incredible,” he said.

“They waited for their chance and there were some fantastic performances. We had to change the way we play today and we make no apologies for that, we just had to win the game.”

Cooper lauded the impact of Young after his match-winning goal, saying of the 19-year-old: “That’s exactly what he does and that’s why we played him – he does that every day in training.

“He’s got bits that he needs to polish up and we’ve got to get him to work a little bit more when he hasn’t got the ball but he can do that for fun.”

Young’s superb strike maintained Forest Green’s eye-catching start to the season as the former Sheffield United fired past beyond Jamie Cumming after Aaron Collins threaded him through.

Collins should have made it 2-0 when he smashed the post from close while he hit the frame of the goal for the second time with 10 minutes to go.

Stevenage offered little in a tepid first half – Arthur Read fizzing over from distance – but they missed a late opportunity with Ross Marshall failing to get on the end of a loose ball in the box.

Stevenage boss Alex Revell  lamented his side’s first-half showing .

He said: “It was a negative goal as it was avoidable, but we have to do more to score goals

“We gave the ball away too much in the first half and then we got more of the ball and they barely got in our half. The second half was better and we got people on the ball who can cause damage. We had chances and a lot of attacking play, but without an end punch.

“I can’t remember Forest Green having a clear-cut chance apart from the post in the second half. We deserved something from the second half, but not the first.”

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