Winning run ended in high scoring contest
A magnificent Ricky Miller hat-trick ended Forest Green’s six match-winning run in emphatic style in front of the BT Sport cameras at Dover, writes Richard Joyce.
Dover’s leading marksman struck with a brilliant individual effort on 88 minutes, just two minutes after FGR had drawn deservedly level, to steal all three points in one of Rovers’ most entertaining National League matches for some time.
Liam Noble had put Mark Cooper’s men in front early on, only for Dover to equalise when Miller got his first.
And after the former Luton man had struck a penalty after half time, Rhys Murphy levelled the affair.
Another former Luton forward, in the shape of Ross Lafayette, restored Dover’s lead, which was then cancelled out by Christian Doidge – only for Miller to strike right at the end.
Having scored his first goal for the club last weekend, Noble gave Rovers the lead in the lunchtime kick off with another free kick, which clipped the Dover wall on its way into the back of the net.
A frenetic start was added to when Fabien Robert forced former FGR keeper Steve Arnold into a fine stop, and Dover then drew parity on 13 minutes.
Miller swept home from inside a busy penalty area after Aswad Thomas had done well to get forward down the left hand side.
Both sides look threatening when in attacking positions. Arnold was kept busy having to keep out efforts from Noble, Darren Carter and Matt Tubbs, while a superb save by Sam Russell down the other end on 38 minutes prevented Lafayette from scoring from a free kick.
The tie was finely poised at the break, and a crazy five minutes followed after the interval with the hosts turning it around to take the lead.
Miller stepped up from the penalty spot to send Russell the wrong way after the referee had tightly judged Noble to have tripped the advancing Thomas in the area.
But within a minute FGR were level. Carter’s hanging cross was headed home terrifically by Murphy whose aerial effort had just enough power to take the ball over the line.
Then came a mass of Rovers pressure that the Kent side managed to survive. Tubbs was denied by a good block, while Robert saw Jack Parkinson deny him a clear shot on goal.
On 58 minutes, for the first time in a three minute spell, Rovers hit the woodwork when Noble’s cleverly crafted effort pinged off the post, and shortly after Carter’s strike smashed onto the underside of the crossbar.
Just past the hour mark Arnold was alert to make a fine block from Tubbs, who had found room on the left hand side in the box from a well worked free kick taken by Noble.
Forest Green looked like they deserved to be in front, but they were dealt a huge blow when completely against the run of play Dover nosed into the lead again.
Lafayette got in on the goal-scoring act this time as his fantastic lob drifted over Russell.
Cooper’s charges would again have to come back if they wanted to salvage something, which they more than deserved from the game.
Substitute Doidge looked like he had delivered on 86 minutes when he made it 3-3. He latched onto Noble’s superb intricate pass to slide home for what looked set to be the afternoon’s final major act.
Miller had other ideas though, and having been invited to run at the FGR defence, he unleashed a wonderful hit that left Russell with no chance, and with Dover all of the points.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images