Defeat won't dent Hockaday's optimism
DAVE Hockaday expects his Forest Green players to bounce back quickly from their first Blue Square Bet Premier defeat of the season.
Rovers made the long trip back from Grimsby Town empty handed thanks to Nathan Pond's second-half header, having unquestionably been the better side in the opening period.
The result saw Hockaday's men usurped at the summit of the division by Macclesfield Town, but the manager was more concerned about the lessons his squad need to learn if they are to sustain a promotion challenge.
"I thought the pace of the game suited us and we killed it very well, and their keeper (James McKeown) made a number of great saves," said Hockaday.
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"Whatever football was played was by us, but then we didn't defend a free-kick very well and they went ahead.
"Then it was all us, and I just wanted us to move the ball quicker and have more belief. We looked as if it was one game too far to rescue.
"I'm really disappointed because I feel we lost it rather than Grimsby won it – no disrespect to them.
"But I feel with a young squad it could almost be a relief after being unbeaten for seven games, and it's gone now.
"The task for us is bouncing back, because good teams do that quickly and learn from their defeats. We seemed quite happy with 0-0 and I wanted to win the game."
Rovers had to do without prolific midfielder Yan Klukowski at Blundell Park, Hockaday confirming afterwards that last season's top scorer had suffered a recurrence of a groin injury.
But this Saturday's home match against Alfreton Town could see a return to the squad for left-back Chris Stokes, who has yet to play this term due to a thigh problem.
Hockaday said: "Stokesey trained fully for the first time on Thursday and doesn't seem to have suffered any reaction, so that's good news for him and us.
"I totally believe we are going to get better and better, and if that's the case we're in for an interesting season."