Late goal ends Rovers cup ambitions
Roarie Deacon’s last gasp header denied Forest Green Rovers a place in the first round proper of the FA Cup, writes Richard Joyce.
Sutton sealed their progress into the next round by coming from behind to knock out an FGR side who had taken the lead in the first half through Liam Noble.
The two National League rivals fought out a tense encounter throughout, but a free kick from former Forest Green man Ross Stearn, and Deacon’s dramatic late winner were the two goals that were enough to dump Mark Cooper’s men out.
Stearn almost gave Sutton the lead after 12 minutes when his hit from a narrow angle was blocked by Sam Russell, and the hosts will have been disappointed to have not stuck the loose ball home in the six yard box.
Rovers’ first chances were efforts from distance. Fabien Robert fired wide and Darren Carter’s hit flew just over the bar.
After Dean Beckwith had almost stroked in for Sutton, Forest Green took the lead, as Noble found the back of the net with a well-executed finish following a quickly taken corner.
Robert almost followed up the opener with an ambitious overhead kick, but Sutton ensured they’d draw level ten minutes before half time with a free kick from distance. Stearn’s right-footed effort flew into the back of the net to help the hosts equalise.
Noble tried his best to restore Rovers lead with a long range shot that was well saved by Ross Worner, while an excellent one-on-one stop from Russell a minute later down the other end prevented former Arsenal man Craig Eastmond from exploiting space that had been left open at the back.
Carter’s long range effort in the first minute of the second half flew over the bar as FGR looked to make an early impact, and they nearly did on 51 minutes, when superb build up play ended with Elliott Frear crossing for Noble who couldn’t hit the target.
Drissa Traore forced Worner into a save as chances continued to fall Rovers way, and Sutton missed a massive chance to take the lead when Beckwith headed wide from Nicky Bailey’s brilliant ball into the box.
The chances were see-sawing between the sides, and Aarran Racine came just inches away from glancing home Noble’s set piece delivery on 78 minutes, meanwhile Sutton substitute Chris Dickson forced a powerful effort that flew just wide.
Ethan Pinnock almost produced a moment of brilliance when his volley was tipped over by Worner as Forest Green looked for a late winner.
But after a key save from Russell had denied Dickson’s powerful run down the left, the home side booked their first round place.
Deacon rose highest inside the area unmarked, and saw his header go in off the post, to complete the turnaround and send Sutton through.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images