HE HAS worked with the supposed ‘big-time Charlies’ of the Premier League, but Forest Green manager Ady Pennock will not tolerate egos or sulkers in his New Lawn dressing room.
Rovers are in Skrill Premier action for the first time in nearly a month on Saturday, eager to exorcise some FA Trophy demons at FC Halifax Town (3pm).
Pennock’s men were beaten in a penalty shoot-out by Northern Premier side Chorley on Tuesday night, strikers Matthew Barnes-Homer and James Alabi copping plenty of terrace criticism for their failure to find the net in the preceding 120 minutes.
But the former Stoke City first-team coach has exonerated the duo from blame, insisting they were let down by an over-extravagant approach from their colleagues.
And he has called on returning front man Danny Wright to make amends for his red card in the first tie in Lancashire, which meant he was banned for the replay.
Pennock said: “Tuesday night had nothing to do with James (Alabi) or Barnesey – the midfielders and other players should have done better.
“We tried to score Beckham goals for some reason, when easier passes would have put us one-on-one with the keeper.
“It’s about composure as much as quality, and the disappointing thing was we didn’t learn from the first game at Chorley and ended up out of the cup.
“Having Danny Wright back for Halifax is a boost and he has got a big responsibility, because he owes us a game after getting himself sent off.”
Tomorrow’s clash at The Shay is the first of five league matches in 15 days over the holiday season, a crucial period if Rovers are to retain any interest in making the play-offs. They are currently seven points adrift, but with more than half of the season’s fixtures still to play – and no further cup distractions – Pennock is focused firmly on the future.
“It’s a very important spell and we’ve got to bounce back from a kick to the nether regions,” he said.
“I’m hurting more than anyone, but the games come thick and fast now and we’ve got to be ready.
“We can’t mope around. There is still a lot to play for in the season and the Christmas and new year period is always massive.”
Defender Jamie Turley hobbled off after 20 minutes against Chorley in midweek, meaning either Aarran Racine or fit-again Eddie Oshodi will regain a starting berth.
Chris Stokes (hamstring), Yan Klukowski (thigh) and Magno Vieira (ankle) remain sidelined, although the latter is nearing a return.
Rovers won the home fixture against Halifax in dramatic fashion, goals from Vieira and Anthony Barry overturning a 1-0 deficit in the 91st and 95th minutes.
Promoted via the Conference North play-offs last season, Halifax have impressed on their return to the big time and sit two places and four points above Forest Green in 10th.