Rovers unbeaten run continues at Darlington
FOREST Green stretched their superb unbeaten run to seven games with a battling goalless draw against Darlington at The Darlington Arena, writes Richard Joyce.
And Dave Hockaday’s men will be disappointed they didn’t return to Gloucestershire with all three points as early first half substitute Michael Uwezu struck the post twice in the second period in a side that saw a number of changes.
Midfield anchor Al Bangura, originally named in the starting eleven, hobbled off during the warm up and James Bittner returned to take his place between the sticks following the recall by Watford of on-loan Jonathan Bond. Kieron Forbes also returned following his suspension.
And it was the visitors who kick started the action with Matty Taylor hitting the side netting in the second minute and James Norwood smashing an effort well over from the edge of the box.
A 17th minute free kick from James Rowe, initially intended as a cross, was palmed around the post by Darlington shot-stopper Sam Russell with the ball looking as though it would creep in to the far corner.
Meanwhile at the other end the hosts produced their first effort on goal when Graeme Lee headed on a long punt from Russell which was then spectacularly fired wide by Dale Hopson.
The initial bright opening faded towards the end of the half with only a Norwood free kick which fell wide and Yan Klukowski producing a floated effort which landed on the roof of Russell’s net.
It was Rovers who were again quick off the mark when first half substitute Michael Uwezu, who replaced Norwood towards the end of the first period, produced a weak effort which was easily dealt with by Russell.
It was another Rovers substitute on the hour mark in the shape of Liam Henderson who almost latched on to an effort in the box whilst the on loan York City striker turned provider just a couple of minutes later but Klukowski blazed over.
The 72nd minute saw Rovers find the woodwork for the first of two times in the afternoon following good work by Rovers skipper Jared Hodgkiss.
The right back produced a low cross from the right which Uwezu stretched to connect with and the Nigerian’s touch found the post and left Russell stranded.
Darlington threatened for the first time in the half when Adam Rundle was left in acres of space outside the box and the midfield man smashed a half volley towards Bittner’s goal which left the keeper stretching but Rundle’s effort failed to find the target.
Just a few minutes after Uwezu had hit the woodwork for the first time the substitute was at it again as Rovers came even closer to breaking the deadlock when the forwards surging run from the left ended with his shot cannoning off the post.
Rundle tried his luck again before a Rovers breakaway saw Chris Stokes presented with the chance to find the back of the net as Klukowski teed the full back up on the edge of the box but the former Bolton Wanderers man dragged his effort wide to leave both sides level.
Report: Richard Joyce
Picture: Shane Healey