Henderson strike seals three points for Rovers
A first game of the month after the recent big freeze allowed Forest Green to record an important home win against play off chasing Gateshead at The New Lawn, writes Richard Joyce.
Forest Green boss Dave Hockaday handed debuts to both Tommy Wright and Jamie Collins as Rovers came from behind to collect all of the points on offer on a cold afternoon in football fever Nailsworth.
With Shortwood United in FA Vase last 16 action across the valley a first game of the month after the recent freezing weather would prove to be the perfect winter warmer.
Jake Thomson’s early effort did little to trouble visiting keeper Tim Deasy although it was Rovers own shot stopper Sam Russell who was picking the ball out of the net early on.
Former Republic of Ireland under 21 international Micky Cummins steered in a cross from the left at the near post to hand Gateshead an early lead.
The visitors early pressing game was preventing Rovers from playing their usual flowing football and a 21st minute free kick from Thomson which flew over the bar was the first reaction the hosts had to going behind.
Shortly after though the sides were even again as debutant Tommy Wright stabbed in a Rovers leveller.
The experienced forward, who has been held back from making his debut because of the recent freezing weather, squeezed in through a raft of players after a scramble in the six yard box from a dangerous Thomson corner.
Matty Taylor did well to win a lofted forward ball to produce a low shot that went wide in the closing stages of the first period as both sides went in to the break all square.
Russell was called on to make an early save at the start of the second half when Yemi Odubade’s free kick was knocked on towards goal and the 29 year old padded the ball out for a corner.
In the 56th minute Rovers appeals for what appeared to be a blatant handball were instantly dismissed by referee Declan Ford whilst Gateshead’s Alan O’Brien smashed free kick only just whisked over the Rovers crossbar.
Taylor did well to link up with James Norwood whose 75thminute strike flew well wide as the home side upped the pace in the search of a winner which was soon to come.
Well-built patient Rovers play saw the ball fall to substitute Liam Henderson in the box after Taylor had done brilliantly to win the ball with his head and the on-loan Henderson, playing against his hometown club, fired in acutely past Deasy to hand Forest Green a deserved lead.
Late Gateshead pressure did little to threaten the scoreline late on as Rovers held on for a welcoming three points.