OUT of the FA Cup and now bottom of the league! This has not been a good week for Forest Green Rovers and of course the prophets of doom are out in force. I am not one, but still have some basic points to make.

We have two basic faults that have been ever present all season. The first is we cannot turn superior possession into goals, a frustrating fact for all concerned.

Secondly, we continue to give away goals. I shall have season long nightmares about the unchallenged Jayden Stockley first keeping Exeter in the cup and then knocking us out of it. Watching the goal highlights of the two Exeter games in not a life enhancing experience.

Some criticise the possession game the team play. So do I when the overplay on the edge of the penalty area. This allows the opposition to regroup and of course we inevitably lose possession. Secondly we go backwards too often. Players need to be bolder, but when you are bottom of the league confidence must be rock bottom too.

Three points need to be made and these are not rocket science. More support must be offered to Christian Doidge. Taking English ‘O’ level over sixty years ago I learned to phrase “Green Island in a sea of misery”. This was actually a definition of poetry, held dear by the poet Shelley. I can think of no better way of describing the form and performance of the redoubtable Doidge. He must have more support. Bugiel has rough edges but could have been used on Saturday.

Of course relegation is a threat but it is one that can be avoided. More important than the transfer window will be the return of our talisman of the season Isaiah Osbourne. He is the cement that holds the team together. We have some very promising bricks but on their own they can crumble.

Now, back to the beautiful game, which we all know is cricket. No Ashes tour takes place without discussion of sledging. Carried to the limits it is now boundaries are over stepped. Umpires should step in and curtail it. The sooner they have yellow and red cards the better. In football foul and abusive language is a sending of offence. Make it so in cricket.

Banter of course is a different matter. In my pre ‘O’ level days I was batting against Dick Gearing. His bowling will not worry you, but his talking might was the excellent advice I was given before batting. As I approached the wicket Dick greeted me with the words “I see they have sent out a boy to do a man’s job”. As I walked past him I replied “In Bowling to me they have given you a man’s task when surely a boy could do it”. When I turned to take guard Dick gave me a grin and wave of acknowledgement. I had no trouble after that.

Playing against Coates and being told to look at the size of Reg Tugwell’s feet was a more unsettling moment but that only happened once.

Yes Forest Green Rovers are out of the cup and bottom of the league but on Saturday evening Penny and I attended “On a Winter’s Night” at the Stroud Subscription Rooms. Johnny Coppin and his team are a delightful antidote to any cares and concerns. Martin Fry’s superb photograph makes the evening one of joy and Christmas delight.