Dave Hockaday: Forest Green Rovers can peak in race for Blue Square Bet Premier promotion
IN-FORM Forest Green have been urged to stay ruthless as the Blue Square Bet Premier promotion race looks set to go to the wire.
Rovers moved to within five points of the summit with a 4-1 drubbing of Braintree Town in midweek, although games in hand for teams below them mean they must watch their backs in the hunt for play-off places.
Dave Hockaday's side welcome Gateshead to the New Lawn tomorrow (3pm), and the manager knows every goal could be crucial with 15 games of the regular season remaining.
Hockaday said: "We can't affect what anybody else does but Luton and Cambridge lost (on Tuesday) and it's going to be like that for the rest of the season, with everybody dropping points here and there.
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"Let's hope the four goals we got are as good as an extra point at the end of the season.
"Having said that, I'm always disappointed with the goals we concede and there are always little things we can improve.
"My teams generally do even better in the second half of the season and I'm hoping that's true again.
"We've got a lot of games in a short space of time and we're going to need everybody to contribute."
James Norwood commanded star billing with his second hat-trick of the campaign against Braintree, taking his goal tally to 14 in all competitions.
Hockaday was keen to highlight the contribution of the other forwards at his disposal, although he admitted Norwood's timing was impeccable after signing a new long-term contract.
The Rovers boss joked: "That cements the contract he has just signed, so I'm sure he'll be knocking on the door asking for an improvement already.
"He's a good player for us who fits in well with our system, which gives him a great platform.
"But I thought Matty Taylor also gave us a good platform and it was the best Magno Vieira had played at home for a long, long time.
"We also brought Yemi Odubade on and he is looking sharp, so I would have no problem starting with him now."
Odubade is on loan at Rovers from tomorrow's opponents so will be ineligible to play in the game.
That could see either Reece Styche or Ben Wright return to the squad – the latter's first involvement since injuring knee ligaments in October.
Al Bangura must serve the second of a three-match ban and fellow midfielder Steve Brogan remains sidelined by a groin injury.
Persistent problems with their International Stadium pitch have left Gateshead with a fixture backlog, and they have played four fewer games than Hockaday's men.
It has been a troubled season all-round for the Tynesiders, who replaced manager Ian Bogie with Anth Smith in December and are hovering one place above the drop zone.