Collins double helps Rovers on their way to three points
AN effective Forest Green display ensured Rovers left struggling Kettering Town with maximum points to secure their second win in a row, writes Richard Joyce.
Jamie Collins, making just his second appearance in a Rovers shirt following his deadline day move from Aldershot, fired in two goals to set Rovers on their way to a second win in the space of four days as Yan Klukowski also secured his tenth goal of the season late on.
There was just one change to the line up that had beaten play off chasing rivals Gateshead at The New Lawn at the weekend as Liam Henderson swapped places with striking partner Tommy Wright in the Rovers starting line up whilst there was a positive return of Keiron Forbes on the bench.
And the evening began perfectly for Rovers when Jake Thomson’s in-swinging corner found the head of Jamie Collins at the back post and the midfield man steered in a header when completely unmarked with just 72 seconds down on the clock.
Marcus Kelly provided the hosts with much of their attacking intent all evening and his 25 yard left footed effort was deflected out for a corner in the 18th minute, dropping yards wide with Rovers keeper Sam Russell left stranded.
The resultant corner saw Lewis Hornby, making his Kettering debut after joining on loan from neighbours Northampton Town, clip the crossbar in a rare first half moment where Kettering provided an attacking threat.
Kettering keeper Laurie Walker was then called upon to make a superb stop just after the half hour mark as a Thomson free kick from the right was met by the head of the diving James Norwood who was left unmarked.
Rovers secured a key late first half goal five minutes before the break when neat build up play saw Collins net his second goal of the evening.
Rovers movement up the left channel saw the ball reach the feet of Henderson and Saturday’s goal scoring hero teed up the impressive Collins who stroked in past Walker to double Rovers lead going in to the break.
After the break Thomson was immediately testing his former club and team mate when the Trinidad & Tobago international fired in an effort from 25 yards which Walker knocked out for a corner.
And Walker was called in to action just a minute later to produce a superb one handed saved from Chris Stokes whose hooked close range effort almost hit the back of the net.
It was Rovers who were then called in to defensive action as Jared Hodgkiss brilliantly cleared off the line from a David Bridge’s header that looked almost sure to creep in but the Rovers skipper ensured Rovers held on to their clean sheet.
And it was Hodgkiss who presented Collins with the opportunity to try and find his third when the right backs throw in fell to the midfield man whose shot hit the side netting although Rovers were celebrating just moments later when they stroked in a third.
Henderson fed the pacey Yan Klukowski who had broken through the Kettering defence with ease and Rovers top goal scorer this season fired past Walker to further increase the visitor’s advantage.
There was a determination however from Rovers to ensure they left Northamptonshire with a clean slate and this was illustrated six minutes from time when Russell pulled off a terrific parried stop to deny Danny Mills from finding the bottom corner with a low strike.
The Rovers number one could do nothing however when Mills finally did manage to find the back of the net with just seconds left on the clock as the winger steered in a deep cross at the far post.
Kettering’s late strike did little to upset what was a convincing Rovers display at Nene Park as Rovers secured a second consecutive win.