Forest Green Make `Stella` Signing

Former `golden boot` winner Matt Tubbs has signed a one-year-deal with Vanarama National League club Forest Green Rovers after leaving Portsmouth by mutual consent.

The experienced former AFC Bournemouth, Crawley Town and Salisbury City striker is earmarked by manager Mark Cooper to play 45 minutes in tonight's pre-season game against Cardiff City at The New Lawn.

The 31-year-old followed up his top scoring 21 goals in League Two in 2014/15 with a decent start last term – scoring 6 goals in sixteen games for Portsmouth including just nine starts – before injury interrupted his season.

An unhappy loan spell at Eastleigh in the National League, where he scored just twice in sixteen appearances, failed to trigger a return to the fold at Fratton Park and Tubbs was transfer-listed at season’s end.

Despite initially turning down an approach from Forest Green, Cooper kept communication lines open with a player who has scored over 230 goals in all competitions during his career, at a rate of almost one in every two games.

Cooper said: “His goalscoring record speaks for itself, he’s scored at this level and the two above, Matt is a really big signing.

“The strikers we now have are all different, they each offer a different threat. But it’s important that they complement each other and Tubbs will be able to play with any of the other three."

Cooper believes once Tubbs is match-fit he will once again prove to be a force at National League level.

“Matt was maybe rushed out on loan (to Eastleigh last season), before he was fully fit. But once we have him for a few weeks and he is match-fit and flying – he’ll score goals – plain and simple."

On the extended negotiations, Cooper said: “We wanted ideally to have a quick decision earlier in the summer, but as a player he wanted to explore his options and I understand that. But we got there in the end.”

Born in Salisbury, Tubbs had spells at AFC Bournemouth and Bolton Wanderers as a youth before beginning his senior career at Salisbury City – where he played alongside Forest Green Academy manager Scott Bartlett for a number of years.

Over six seasons with the Whites, Tubbs scored 123 goals in all competition as he helped them to three promotions as they rose from Southern League Division One East to the Conference Premier.

Despite finishing the 2009/10 season mid-table on the back of Tubbs league-leading 26 goals, Salisbury were demoted back to the South League for entering administration.

A switch to Crawley Town for a reported club record £55,000, saw Tubbs repeat his golden boot exploits, hammering 37 league goals and 40 goals in all competitions as the West Sussex club ran away with the Conference Premier title and Tubbs was named was named in the Conference team of the year.

Tubbs continued his good form in 2011/12 in League Two and 18 goals in all competitions by January prompted a bid from his home-town club AFC Bournemouth in League One – signing a three-and-a-half-year deal reported to be in the region of £800,000.

Despite limited playing time in League One during the 2012/13 season, Tubbs still managed six goals from just seven starts – as Bournemouth were promoted to the Championship.

Tubbs remained in League One on loan during the 2013/14 season, first at Rotherham and then back a Crawley Town where he scored eight goals in 18 appearances.

Loaned out to AFC Wimbledon in League Two at the start of the 2014/15 season, Tubbs went on to score 12 league goals and 15 in all competitions by January, prompting a bid from rivals Portsmouth that brought an end to his three-year spell on the books of Bournemouth.

A further nine goals that season saw Tubbs claim the 2014/15 League Two `golden boot`.

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