Rovers crash out
FOREST Green crashed out of the FA Cup at the first attempt as Evo Stik Southern Premier Division side Arlesey Town fired in two late goals to end Rovers involvement in the competition for another season, writes Richard Joyce.
The defeat means Forest Green will not compete in the first round for the first time in five seasons as their Bedfordshire opponents go in to the hat for the draw which could see Arlesey pitched against the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic.
Rovers produced the first chance of the afternoon five minutes in when good work down the left by Keiron Forbes saw his low cross land at the feet of James Rowe whose low effort was easily stopped by Mark Osborn.
And Osborn was in action again on the quarter of an hour mark as he managed to parry away a strong Forbes effort after Bangura had found his midfield partner when collecting the ball from a James Rowe corner.
The half an hour mark saw Rovers suffer an enforced change as goalkeeper Matt Bulman, earning a rare start in place of first choice James Bittner, failed to wash off an injury sustained from a clash with an Arlesey attacker a few minutes earlier and Bittner came off the bench to take his place.
And Bittner was immediately on his toes as the home side produced their only chance of the first half when striker Dean Sinclair had his low effort deflected out for a corner.
The returning Matty Taylor then set up Yan Klukowski with the clocking ticking on the first forty five minutes but the previous weekend’s goal scoring hero had his effort on goal saved by Osborn.
Arlesey almost took the lead ten minutes in to the second half in almost the oddest of fashions.
Rovers skipper Jared Hodgkiss laid the ball off to Bittner to clear up field but the substitutes attempt at a long kick cannoned off the head of Arlesey attacker Joel Mason and only just over the Rovers bar.
The quiet Jake Thomson burst in to life in the 62nd minute as the Trinidad & Tobago international picked up the ball and ran at the Arlesey defence, eventually squaring the ball to Hodgkiss, who had surged forward from his defensive position, and the former West Brom youngster smashed in a fantastic half volley to hand Rovers the lead.
The goal led to a flurry of chances from Rovers as they looked to find a comforting second goal with Taylor finding the back of the net but having his effort ruled out as he was in an offside position.
Taylor had another effort saved whilst Griffin shot wide and Forbes saw his run and shot fail to test Osborn.
The closing stages of the game saw a reversal of fortunes for Rovers as Dave Hockaday’s men threw away their promising position.
In the 84th minute substitute Charlie Griffin brought down Chris Marsh just inside the box and the referee pointed straight to the spot to award the hosts a lifeline penalty kick.
Chris Dillon subsequently dispatched the penalty kick straight down the middle to equalise for the hosts heading in to a tense five minutes where Rovers were to suffer even more by late show nerves.
Another foul, this time given away on the edge of the box by Forbes, presented Arlesey with a final opportunity in the opening stages of second half added time to find a winner and the Southern League giant killers did.
Right back Dave Deeney fired in to the bottom corner with the dead ball to send the Arlesey team in to raptures and to send Rovers and their large away following out of the cup.