Forest Green boss Mark Cooper praised an outstanding performance from his side as they earned a goalless draw at fellow promotion hopefuls Salford that keeps both sides unbeaten.
Rovers dominated the first half with Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers watching on, and only another inspired display from new Salford goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky kept his side in it at half-time. The giant Czech stopper produced a stunning save to keep out Jamille Matt’s header early on.
“The tone was set from the first minute with that unbelievable save from Jamille Matt,” said Cooper.
“He’s made two or three of those in the first half and that was the difference. It kept them in the game. We had chances with a couple of one on ones and we should be scoring those.”
Unable to find a goal despite the lively Aaron Collins proving a constant menace, Cooper nonetheless believes what he saw bodes well for the season.
“I’ve said to the players, if we keep playing like that then we will start to win lots of games,” Cooper added.
“I thought we were brilliant. The boys were outstanding, we dominated the game, an outstanding performance to come to one of the favourites and put on that display was really good.
“The only thing missing was that we didn’t score. Twenty-one shots and five on target – that’s better than last week. Their keeper made some unbelievable saves.
“It’s a point at Salford, we should have won but we move on and feel really positive that everything is good.”
A deflated Ammies boss Graham Alexander felt his side took too long to get going.
“It was two teams who wanted to score but sometimes you can’t get over the line,” he said. “I’m really pleased with our players to keep going until the end.
“They can hurt you and they have a lot of power but we competed with them well. I thought we could have shown more composure throughout the game and a little bit more care in the final third with our decision making.
“It took us a while to get going and I don’t know why. We started the second half really brightly and the second half was end-to-end.
“We knew they would come here to win as they have a fantastic away record. It is early days and I’m looking for improvement but we’ve had a really tough start and are unbeaten with two clean sheets from three games, second top-scorers so there are things to build on. We have a foothold in the league that we can build on.”
Alexander agreed with Cooper’s assessment that keeper Hladky was the difference.
“Our keeper was used too much today for our liking but made some great saves,” Alexander admitted.
“All successful teams need good goalkeepers and what Vaz has brought is great shot-stopping and saving ability plus great composure and distribution. He has been exceptional.
“We played those last year and they beat us 4-0. They are powerful and expansive and they will be up there too. They have good players and an experienced manager.
“It was two good teams going for the win and I’m surprised with the chances that I was 0-0 rather than 2-2 or 3-3.”
Salford handed a debut to 20-year-old full-back Tylor Golden, who excelled with Phil and Gary Neville watching on.
“I’m aware that they come but didn’t know who was here today,” he said.
“It’s a great inspiration. They are the players I was watching growing up as a big Manchester United fan myself and it’s amazing to see them here.
“The Nevilles play my position. I watched them closely when I was younger and they were my inspiration.
“I watch their performances and try and adapt my play to theirs so I’m glad they are here to support as the lads get a big kick out of it.”