Unbeaten FGR pegged back by the Heed
For the first time in 2017 Forest Green tasted defeat in the National League on the long trip north to Gateshead, writes Richard Joyce.
A Danny Johnson brace and Wes York stunner condemned Rovers to defeat despite Kaiyne Woolery’s first goal for the club in the second half.
Forest Green did hit the post on three occasions but couldn’t recover from going two goals down in the opening 45 minutes.
Gateshead threatened from the start as FGR struggled to find their feet in the early stages. York forced an early effort wide for the hosts after the ball had dropped to him outside the area.
And after a quiet period they did eventually have the ball in the back of the net on 21 minutes when Johnson fired in low under Sam Russell. He latched onto York’s through ball and drove the home side into the lead.
The scores were almost levelled immediately. Jake Gosling received the ball in space in the Gateshead area and fired a low shot that Heed goalkeeper James Montgomery pushed onto the post.
Johnson grabbed his and Gateshead’s second on the half hour mark to further their advantage.
The former Cardiff City front man was allowed to tuck inside onto his dangerous left foot and he slotted into the bottom corner.
For the second time in the half Rovers hit the post just before the break. Montgomery rushed out of his goal and allowed Christian Doidge the chance to fire from a difficult angle at goal, but his shot was curving away and clipped the woodwork before being cleared.
Major improvements would be needed after half time if FGR were to find a way back into the game - and Mark Cooper’s men got off to the best possible start.
Omar Bugiel’s shot from distance was parried by Montgomery into the path of Woolery, and the attacker kept his composure to find the net.
It was the lifeline that was needed, although Gateshead responded by restoring their two goal advantage with a stunning strike from York on 56 minutes. Ethan Pinnock’s clearance from a corner dropped to the ex-Nuneaton attacker who smashed home emphatically from distance.
The hosts had the ball in the back of the net again minutes later. However Paddy McLaughlin’s effort was ruled out as he was caught offside having latched onto Johnson’s tremendous low shot that had slammed onto the post.
Keanu Marsh-Brown forced Montgomery into action after coming on as a substitute when his low hit after Forest Green had worked the ball well across the Gateshead box almost crept in.
The lively York continued to threaten for the home side in search of an opportunity to extend his team’s lead. He saw Russell get down low to save his strong near post shot as time began to dwindle away in the search for an FGR comeback.
Yet again the woodwork denied Rovers as Doidge was prevented from scoring by the post. He beat Montgomery but not the frame of the goal after being put through by Shamir Mullings.
And Pinnock almost notched with a goal his performance deserved in the final minute of normal time. The centre back saw his left footed hit just skip past the post though.
It was FGR who were on top in the latter stages, although on the break Gateshead almost added to their lead. Russell stood tall to deny York after he had run onto Montgomery’s clearance.
And the Gateshead keeper then made a good save himself in stoppage time to prevent Ellis from heading in at the far post from a Marsh-Brown corner as Gateshead held on to claim all three points.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images