Hard working Rovers suffer late defeat
FOREST Green’s ambitions of knocking off the league’s top team for a second time in five days were ruined by a stoppage time winner for visitors Fleetwood Town, writes Richard Joyce.
Chris Allen was handed a starting berth in the Rovers midfield in place of the injured Kieron Forbes who had failed to recover from the hamstring injury that the former Watford man picked up on Tuesday against Wrexham. Meanwhile there were also places on the bench for new Friday signings, Michael Pook and Tommy Wright.
Jake Thomson had visiting keeper Scott Davies on guard in the matches’s first opportunity when Rovers midfield anchor saw his deep free kick in to the box tipped over.
James Norwood was then next to test the former Morecambe goalkeeper in the 19th minute when the wingers right footed free kick was easily stopped.
Just minutes after Norwood was doing his bit at the other end when he twice prevented Fleetwood from firing in from close range – first denying Jamie Vardy and then Danny Rose’s close range header.
In what was a balanced opening, Rovers took advantage of a misplaced Shaun Beeley pass to fire in an opener on the half hour mark.
The visitors right back mistakenly played a low pass to Liam Henderson who fed Matty Taylor to slip the ball past the on rushing Davies to ensure Rovers were the first to find the back of the net.
Ten minutes later it was another mistake by a Fleetwood man, when former Forest Green midfielder Lee Fowler lost the ball in the middle and Taylor attempted to benefit by feeding Yan Klukowski but Nathan Pond got across to sniff out any opportunity for a Rovers strike on goal.
The attacking threat Fleetwood so strongly pose finally struck two minutes before the break when another former Rovers man in the shape of Andy Mangan had his powerfully struck edge of the box effort parried by Sam Russell and Magno Vieira pounced to secure a Fleetwood leveller.
The second half began with the ball in the back of the Fleetwood net but Jared Hodgkiss’s well placed finish was ruled to be offside by the referee’s assistant as Rovers searched for a positive beginning to the second period.
And the home side again came close when Jake Thomson’s 51st minute set piece saw Eddie Oshodi head just narrowly over.
Liam Henderson did well to bring down a high Klukowski ball and get a tame shot in on goal just before the hour mark when Rovers were dealt an unexpected blow when Russell was forced off through injury and replaced by James Bittner.
And Bittner was called in to action almost immediately to prevent Mangan from firing in a dipping long range effort.
The highly regarded Vardy then flashed an effort wide whilst the persistent Taylor blasted well over when the hard working front man had been teed up on the edge of the box.
The long stoppage for Russell’s injury led to a lengthy seven minutes of additional time being added on by the match officials and it would prove to be a key period as Fleetwood secured the goal Rovers had worked so hard to not concede.
A Mangan corner shipped in to a crowded penalty area dropped to Fleetwood substitute Robert Atkinson and the defender stabbed in what would prove to be Fleetwood’s match winner.