Ten man Rovers see unbeaten run come to an end
FOREST Green waved goodbye to their fantastic unbeaten league run with a disappointing home defeat to Lincoln City in a game which saw Rovers reduced to ten men, writes Richard Joyce.
The sending off of defensive rock Jamie Turley a few minutes before half time proved the catalyst for Rovers downfall after an opening half an hour which saw the home side litter Lincoln goalkeeper Paul Farman's goal with chances.
"If you don't put your chances away you don't win games," commented Rovers boss Dave Hockaday. "We should have been two or three nil up. We've had lots of chances in and around their box but I can't blame the lads for a lack of effort."
"We've had a right good go but it wasn't to be our day. We were the architects of our own downfall."
Liam Henderson was the first to try his luck on a bitterly cold afternoon at The New Lawn and the on-loan York City man made Paul Farman pull off a routine stop in the tenth minute with a right footed effort on the edge of the box.
Henderson was at it again a few minutes later with Matt Taylor also scooping a shot well wide but it was the 23rd minute that saw Rovers come closest to breaking the deadlock as Taylor headed on a Michael Uwezu volley which hammered against the crossbar.
Yan Klukowski then fired a low shot just wide of the target until Lincoln managed their first attempt when Jean-Francois Christophe headed a John Nutter free kick over the bar.
It was just a minute later however that the games major turning point presented the visitors with the ideal opportunity to take a late first half advantage.
A loose header from Eddie Oshodi was salvaged by defensive partner Turley but the sponsors man of the match from Tuesday evening slipped and clipped Lincoln front man Francis Laurent from behind to leave the referee with no choice but to award a penalty kick to the away side and to hand Turley an early bath.
Alan Power stepped up to confidently dispatch the Lincoln penalty from the spot to give the Blue Square Bet Premier strugglers a much needed boost ahead of a second period which saw Taylor almost take an early advantage for Rovers when his turn and shot was shifted away for a corner.
James Bittner was then called upon to make a rare and meaningful save ten minutes in to the half when last year's Supporters Player of the Year got down low to turn away a Laurent strike.
Kieron Forbes was the next Rovers man to try and level the occasion but the midfield man saw his driving shot from distance fly over the bar ahead of Lincoln's game killing winner.
Substitute James Rowe was robbed of the ball just yards from the Rovers box and the tenacious Laurent finished strongly whilst one-on-one with Bittner to secure Lincoln a confidence boosting second goal.
Farman was then called upon twice in the space of five final minutes for Lincoln to pull off two great saves.
The first saw Taylor try his luck from distance for Forest Green whilst substitute James Norwood was also denied a goal by the on-loan Gateshead shot stopper.
The final whistle brought a disappointing end to Rovers terrific unbeaten run of results in a game that saw The New Lawn's final first team action of 2011.