Rovers held at home by the Irons
Christian Doidge’s ruled out late header ensured Forest Green picked up just a point in a frustrating afternoon at The New Lawn against Braintree Town, writes Richard Joyce.
The Welsh strikers stoppage time header was judged to be offside, despite video evidence showing otherwise, as Mark Cooper’s men were held to a draw against the Irons.
In form Michael Cheek had given Braintree the lead in the first half. But Charlie Clough’s second half header saw FGR deservedly equalise, and arguably Rovers would have been left disappointed not to have claimed all three points.
New loan arrival Jake Gosling and Kaiyne Woolery were named in the matchday squad as Forest Green made a bright start. Keanu Marsh-Brown and Doidge both saw early attempts saved by Sam Beasant in the Braintree goal.
Cheek had scored a hat-trick in Braintree’s FA Trophy victory last week, and the forward continued his fine goal scoring form by knocking his side in front when he finished a Jerome Okimo cross off a quarter of an hour in.
The goal had been against the run of play, and despite good efforts from Liam Noble and Marsh-Brown in an attempt to get back on level terms Rovers couldn’t find a way through, and former Welling midfielder Sam Corne almost extended Braintree’s lead albeit for Sam Russell’s push over the bar.
Beasant, son of former Wimbledon great Dave, maintained his team’s clean sheet with two fantastic saves before half time. He denied Marsh-Brown’s thumping strike, and then kept out Rob Sinclair’s hit from outside the box.
Immediately after the interval Russell demonstrated his qualities with a sublime save as he kept out Cheek’s header, which looked destined to ripple the back of the net with a wonderful stop.
Russell was called into action again shortly after when he denied Chez Isaac’s run and shot, and his two early second half saves proved crucial, as Forest Green drew parity on the hour mark.
Noble’s perfect free kick from the left hand side was met with an unstoppable header from Clough as FGR snapped up the goal their afternoon deserved.
And they almost took the lead five minutes later. A Charlie Cooper corner caused chaos in the box, and after a number of chances, Doidge finally scooped over the bar.
Beasant continued to play a part in earning his team a very important point. His top drawer save from Noble’s pin-point free kick on 69 minutes was another outstanding moment for one of the games two goalkeepers.
The momentum was very much with FGR as they continued to scrap for a late winner. Debutant Woolery on as a substitute saw his powerful smash blocked by Beasant, and Cooper’s follow up was deflected wide.
And after the away side almost snatched something at the end when Okimo headed over, Woolery again saw an effort in seven minutes of stoppage time go close, a couple of minutes before the days controversial moment right at the death.
Another excellent Noble free kick saw Doidge head in to give the home crowd the late finish they savoured, however the linesman had his flag up, to deny Rovers maximum points as Braintree claimed a much sought after point on the road.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images
Highlights: Toby Lowndes & Richard Joyce