Hockaday rues penalty decision
A CONTENTIOUS penalty decision left Forest Green boss David Hockaday incandescent with rage after his side were forced to settle for a point.
Hockaday pointed the finger firmly at referee Richard West for Rovers’ failure to claim all three points at Cambridge United.
Hockaday’s after-match view of the DVD on the return trip to Gloucestershire rubber-stamped his assertion that Yan Klukowski was exceedingly unfortunate to have been adjudged to have nudged fellow substitute Luke Berry near the byeline with 13 minutes to go.
Goalkeeper James Bittner, who was booked following the incident, guessed right, but Ashley Carew’s spot-kick cruelly cancelled out Charlie Griffin’s first half opener.
Despite preserving their unbeaten away record at a Cambridge side, who started the day in seventh, Hockaday was left spitting feathers.
He said:"It wasn’t a penalty and there was no way on earth Cambridge were going to score a goal today.
"It wasn’t a poor decision, it was worse than that, and it’s a measure of where we’ve come and we’re absolutely devastated that we haven’t won the game, but we do need to be more ruthless in front of goal."
Hockaday and assistant manager Gary Seward recalled Curtis McDonald to the starting line up in place of James Norwood. Matt Taylor, signed 24 hours earlier, was afforded a place on the bench.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Matt Bulman missed out following a training ground injury and defender Jeffrey Imudia was left at home due to sickness. Rovers were given a pre-game boost with star summer signing Al Bangura taking part in a pre-match training session.
After a slow start, Rovers hit the ground running. Bittner's perceptive flat kick saw the impressive Reece Styche rob the flat-footed Michael Wylde, he then drifted beyond Cambridge stopper Danny Naisbitt and squared the ball to Griffin, who showed composure to rifle home his third goal of the season on nine minutes.
Cambridge offered little. James Rowe saw his corner clip the post and Rovers should have made it two - possibly three-in first half stoppage time.
The industrious Chris Allen watched his goalbound strike miraculously hacked off the line by Josh Coulson following Styche’s persistence to pinch the ball from Wylde and McDonald ‘s deft touch to help the ball on.
There was still time for Griffin to bend a 25-yard striker just beyond Naisbitt’s top corner as Rovers finished on top.Cambridge tried to find a foothold after the break, but were fortunate not to concede a penalty of their own when Coulson blocked off Styche’s dash into the box.
Cambridge then bagged parity from the spot in somewhat fortunate circumstances. Unlucky Klukowski was penalised for a supposed push on Berry – Carew then whacked home the 78th minute gift.
However, Rovers almost snatched a warranted victory with four minutes to go, but Griffin inexplicably glanced his free header wide.The high tempo continued into stoppage time and only a last-ditch block prevented Taylor from grabbing a goal on his debut.
The diminutive striker had only been on the pitch for seven minutes when he received a slide-rule pass in the box following a surging Norwood run. His quick turn flummoxed his marker, but as he looked to bend the ball beyond Naisbitt, Coulson managed to get a vital block in.