Cooper’s psychology working wonders as striker Doidge gets back among the goals

Forest Green striker Christian Doidge scored his first goal in 11 games against Stevenage last weekend

Rovers manager Mark Cooper played a big part in Christian Doidge ending his goal drought

Chelsea loanee goalkeeper Brad Collins impressed on his return to the Forest Green line-up

Christian Doidge has revealed the part played by manager Mark Cooper in his return to goal-scoring form for Forest Green Rovers.

The Gloucestershire club’s top-scorer with 26 in the Vanarama National League last season, the Welshman has found goals much harder to come by as Rovers have struggled to adapt to conditions in League Two this term.

No wonder he had the look of a relieved man after hitting the back of the net in last weekend’s notable 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Stevenage.

Doidge afterwards spoke of the mind games played by Cooper, who resorted to the use of clever psychology to instill renewed belief in his main striker.

“The manager took me to one side and had a word in my ear in training the day before the game,” Doidge revealed. “He told me I was looking sharp and that I should keep plugging away.

“He then pulled me again at half-time (at Stevenage) and told me he thought I was going to score. It really helps your confidence when you know the manager has faith in you.”

Doidge took to the field with Cooper’s comments reverberating inside his head and, set-up by Keanu Marsh-Brown, duly delivered his first goal in 11 outings to help Rovers register back-to-back wins for the first time since gaining promotion.

Confidence is a key component in any goalscorer’s make-up and Doidge always believed he would end his drought.

“It has been frustrating this season, but that is how it goes when you play in a team that is struggling,” he added.

“We dominated games last season, created a lot of chances and scored plenty of goals. That hasn’t happened this season and I’ve had fewer chances.

“That’s when you have to work even harder on the training ground and keep believing in what you are doing. I knew it would come good in the end and, hopefully, I can go on a long run of scoring now.”

Brad Collins was another who went some way towards restoring his reputation at Stevenage. Dropped from the team following the mistakes that handed Swindon Town a 2-0 victory in front of the (italics) Sky (end italics) tv cameras at the New Lawn last month, the loan signing from Chelsea no doubt felt he had a point to prove.

But he was forced to bide his time as Sam Russell came in and played his part in helping Rovers draw 1-1 at Notts County and then beat Coventry City 1-0 at the Ricoh Arena.

Opportunity came knocking unexpectedly when Russell damaged a hamstring in training and Collins was promoted back to the starting line-up at Stevenage. And the youngster made a telling contribution when making a brilliant save in stoppage time to deny Matt Godden an equaliser.

Reece Brown is another Rovers player determined to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up. Recalled in place of the injured Charlie Cooper, the former Birmingham City midfielder scored direct from a free-kick to inspire Forest Green’s fightback at Broadhall Way.

Cooper is facing a further five weeks on the sidelines after being laid low by a terrible tackle from Coventry’s Rod McDonald at the Ricoh Arena. He escaped with bad bruising to the knee, but is not expected to play any part for Rovers in November.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.