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Christian Doidge – Adapting to life in the Football League with Forest Green

Christian Doidge
Photo: Reuters

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Christian Doidge – Adapting to life in the Football League with Forest Green

When I joined Dagenham in the Football League I had only started playing football again three years before, so I was almost re-learning the game. I hadn’t played for two or three years and I was definitely out of my depth at the start. I could always play football, but at that time, experience let me down.

I was like a rabbit in the head lights, running after balls that I shouldn’t have been chasing. But the more you play, the greater experience you get. The more time I’ve had on the field and the training pitch has really helped to improve my game over the last few seasons.

Dagenham gave me my first crack at professional football. I was in a team that was really struggling. I never had a good run of games and the type of football was a lot different.

We play a possession-based style at Forest Green, which allows me to just stay high up the pitch. My aim being to put the ball into the back of the net. That really helps me, as I’m a much better player when I’m in the box and just need to create a yard for myself.

I’ve had a good start to the season, scoring 11 times in 22 league games to date and just really hope that I can keep going now and continue getting goals for Forest Green. It was a really nice achievement winning League Two Player of the month for November, an award I never imagined I would receive.

I’ve been taking my chances whenever I have them and my chance-to-goal ratio is pretty high. This is down to the quality of players around me. My teammates set me up in good areas of the pitch, where I can be most lethal.

At Dagenham I probably wasn’t ready, but the last year spent in the conference at The New Lawn has really helped me to build my confidence. Now, I feel a lot more mature on the pitch and an underlying factor has to be down to the experience I have gained in our promotion run last season.

The play-off final win against Tranmere at Wembley was unbelievable.

When I signed for Forest Green, the first thing that came to mind was the goal of getting promoted. If you get the chance to do that at Wembley and score the type of goal that you wouldn’t usually, that feeling is unbelievable. It is a sensation makes you really want it again and I will definitely be pushing for more of those moments throughout my career.

After winning at Wembley we had a number of new players come in over the summer.

One who has really impressed me is Reece Brown, who arrived from Birmingham. He played Championship football for them, but needed more game time. Mark Cooper, the gaffer, saw something in him and brought him to the club.

He has really been fantastic for me, personally, this season. He is still really young, but he is someone I would love to play with for the rest of my career. He has provided a number of assists and I am convinced he has a really big future in the game.

We were under no illusion that stepping up into the Football League would be tough, especially considering the way we play. We knew it would be difficult.

With Forest Green, the way we play is very dependant on control. When we turn a game into a dog fight, because we are not brave enough to get ourselves on the ball, it becomes a flip of a coin for us. We are not set up for route one football.

We need to be confident and believe in what the manager and the coach, Scott Lyndsey, does for us. They work so hard on it. Our form is all down to sticking to what we do. We play good football and we need to keep on doing it to get the necessary results.

It took us a couple of games to get into it. In the early weeks we were putting in the performances, but not quite getting the results. The gaffer didn’t put any pressure on the players, whatsoever. He simply said, listen, it is going to turn around. You can’t keep playing like that and not start to pick up points!

We had a spell during which we went unbeaten for five games in November, playing some really nice football and scoring a lot of goals. We were second in the league form table.

Losing to Chesterfield and Grimsby since has not been ideal, but we have been very short on numbers recently due to injuries and suspensions.

Obviously being one of the better teams in the National League last year, while playing some excellent football, we went into every game almost expecting to win.

However, as you step up a level, you come against sides with bigger budgets, perhaps with better players. It is difficult because you go into games with a different outlook.

But the one thing about or manager is, we go everywhere to try and win, while playing expansive football. We try to get bums off seats.

That is the way that we play football and it will never change.

Christian Doidge joined Forest Green Rovers in June 2016, moving from Dagenham & Redbridge. After two years working with the Daggers in League Two he made the move to The New Lawn, where he won promotion back to the Football League at the first time of trying. With 27 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions in 2016/17, the Welshman was key to his side's promotion and continues to play a star role throughout 2017/18.

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