Two from two in Rovers pre season
FOREST Green’s pre-season preparations continued with a solid win over Southern League South & West Division side North Leigh, writes Richard Joyce.
Rovers second game of their pre-season schedule saw Dave Hockaday’s men travel away once again with North Leigh’s quaint Eynsham Hall home serving as the ideal venue for a match basked mostly in sunshine.
Forest Green once again utilised their entire squad with over twenty different players getting game time although defensive pair Chris Stokes and Paul Green sat out with slight muscle strains. 17 year old trialist Max Bradford was meanwhile a part of Rovers second half make up.
A bright start from the hosts, who possessed former Rovers men Wayne Turke and Jon Else in their starting eleven, was quickly stamped out with a series of early Rovers chances.
James Rowe’s seventh minute powerfully struck shot, after a Magno Vieira lay off, was padded away well by North Leigh shot stopper Sam Warrell as Rovers began to find their feet.
In fact two minutes later Forest Green had the ball in the back of the North Leigh net only for referee Paul Redmond to rule it offside after Matty Taylor had knocked in – the third disallowed goal suffered by Rovers in their two pre-season friendlies so far.
Taylor was coming up against his former club and the fixture was part of the transfer deal that saw him move to The New Lawn last season, and the nippy forward man was trying his best to impress his former employers as he made Warrell pull off a good stop from a Jared Hodgkiss cross.
Rowe’s 28th minute long range effort skittled wide before North Leigh’s biggest chance of the half which saw ex-Rover Else blast wide of Sam Russell’s post.
With the first period heading for a goalless conclusion there was one final piece of drama when Jamie Turley very nearly staked a claim for goal of the season.
The powerful centre back launched a long ball forward from just inside his own half which beat Warrell all ends up and finished by clipping the post and bouncing away for a goal kick.
A traditional pre-season mass of changes at the break saw a fresh Rovers side step in to place and James Norwood’s lively presence saw the former Exeter City man attempt an audacious lob from the right hand side that dropped narrowly behind Warrell’s goal.
Reece Styche’s later effort then dragged well wide to be followed by Forest Green’s first goal of the afternoon courtesy of a Styche header.
Norwood crossed well towards the back post to find Styche who rose above the North Leigh defenders to notch his second goal of Forest Green’s pre-season campaign so far and to put Rovers in front.
The quality of Norwood’s delivery in to the box would prove crucial in the game’s next two major events as it reached its final stages as the 21 year old crossed for Adie Harvey who connected well to head on to the post.
Another delivery from Norwood five minutes from time would contribute to Rovers second and decisive goal.
Whipped in from the right, the ball eventually fell to summer signing Ben Wright who tucked in nicely to secure his first goal in a Rovers shirt and to hand Forest Green a comfortable second pre-season win.