Late leveller denies Rovers a New Year's Day win
Any hopes of Forest Green kicking off the year with a New Year’s Day home win were dealt a late blow as Jamille Matt headed in a stoppage time equaliser for visiting Kidderminster at The New Lawn, writes Richard Joyce.
Played out in front of a large crowd of 1,542 it was an entertaining afternoon of football, proving to be a great advertisement for the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Birthday boy Yan Klukowski had put Rovers ahead in the first half with a fantastic volleyed effort but Matt’s late header ensured Kidderminster shared the spoils on their relatively short trip back to Worcestershire.
“It’s all about taking chances,” commented Forest Green boss Dave Hockaday. “It was going to be something special or a mistake to breach our defence.”
“We are a growing team and we are learning all the time and we’ve reduced one of the best teams in the league to just pumping balls in to the box. We are getting better and stronger. I’m really proud of the players.”
It was a bright start from the hosts who almost found the back of the net with their first opportunity as Matt Taylor headed inches wide in the third minute from a Jared Hodgkiss cross.
And James Norwood came even closer to securing an early lead for Rovers when the 21 year old saw his guided header from a Jake Thomson free kick hit the crossbar.
Taylor then turned and delivered a strike that fell just wide on the quarter of an hour mark for Rovers who were edging closer to an opener in a fast moving opening half.
Former Premier League starlet Lee Hendrie produced the visitors first noteworthy effort when his volley fell just wide of James Bittner’s goal who almost let James Vincent’s powerfully struck effort through his hands a few minutes later before later gathering.
Bittner then pulled off two superb stops to deny Jamille Matt with a low save and then Kyle Storer’s powerful effort.
Having failed to find the back of the net in their last four outings it was welcome relief when Yan Klukowski, celebrating his 25th birthday, hammered in a fine strike for Rovers to hand the hosts the lead.
Norwood’s cross from the left reached Klukowski who did brilliantly to engineer enough space to unleash a powerfully struck volley which smashed in to the back of the net to put Rovers ahead.
And Bittner ensured Forest Green went in to the half time break still a goal up when the former Salisbury goalkeeper tipped Storer’s long range effort over the bar.
Any suggestions of Forest Green looking to just defend their lead after the break were quashed when seven minutes in to the second period a flurry of chances almost saw Rovers double the score line.
A Thomson corner saw Kiddy clear a fiercely struck effort off the line and Klukowski then saw his driven response deflected out for a corner which saw Chris Stokes almost head in.
Kidderminster substitute Nick Wright then almost steered in a 64th minute leveller after good interplay with Matt ended with Wright’s right footed effort going just wide.
Another substitute in the shape of Michael Uwezu then made Kidderminster keeper Tony Breeden pull off a save whilst Bittner did his best to deny Kiddy any sniff on goal with a finely dug out save from a Hendrie free kick.
Breeden was kept busy again as the game entered the final ten minutes as Uwezu was denied and then eventually Eddie Oshodi by the visiting keeper.
With the final whistle drawing ever closer the Rovers defence continued to drop deeply and the 88th minute saw Kiddy come closest to finding an equaliser when Matt lifted the ball over the on rushing Bittner, only to see it spin inches wide away from the target.
The equaliser Kidderminster so craved was secured however in stoppage time as Micky Demetriou’s well placed cross from the left saw Matt head in to an empty net to deny Rovers a winning start to 2012 as Charlie Griffin and Thomson failed to convert chances late on.