Doidge wins it late to extend Rovers lead
Christian Doidge was the double goal scoring hero with a dramatic stoppage time winner as Forest Green Rovers went seven points clear at the top of the National League, writes Richard Joyce.
His brilliant late header was the perfect response to Aldershot’s 89th minute Jake Gallagher equaliser, as Rovers took advantage of being one of the few teams not involved in FA Cup action to move further ahead at the top of the table.
Doidge had put FGR in front on 16 minutes, but Gallagher’s low finish looked to have claimed a point for the visitors at the death, only for Doidge to bag his sixth goal of the season in front of a relieved and joyful New Lawn crowd.
Both teams tried their best to deal with the conditions in the opening exchanges, and after little action in front of goal Doidge broke the deadlock with a composed finish.
Liam Noble’s terrific ball into the box was met on the chest by Doidge, and he had the confidence to take a number of touches before looping the ball past Jake Cole.
Within the next ten minutes the lead should have arguably been doubled. Matt Tubbs’ burst and pass to Darren Carter was saved, while Dan Wishart’s magnificent cross from the left was very nearly tucked in at the back post by Doidge.
It was then Aldershot’s turn to go close. Shamir Fenelon’s low shot was parried by Sam Russell, and Iffy Allen couldn’t convert the follow up from within the six yard box.
A tentative second half was to come where both teams struggled to get hold of the ball.
Cheye Alexander forced Russell into action with a comfortable save, and substitute Keanu Marsh-Brown then came within inches of finding the net twice in quick succession as Mark Cooper’s charges pushed for a second.
He slammed just past the post on two occasions after making a direct run down the right hand side.
After Shots replacement Matt McClure had tried his luck with two attempts, Noble became the latest FGR player to come just inches from scoring, but like Marsh-Brown his shot zipped just wide.
The pressure was on to hold onto the one goal lead, but former Welling United man Gallagher had other ideas, as he slotted into the bottom corner having seized upon Nick Arnold’s through ball to level for the well-backed visitors.
It was a frustrating blow right at the end, but there was more drama to come, as Doidge headed the winner in stoppage time.
Substitute Rob Sinclair capped a wonderful return from injury by producing a pin-point ball into the area that saw Doidge get up well to glance home a memorable late winner.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images
Highlights: Matt Joyce, Karl Joyce & Richard Joyce