Doidge and Noble strikes cancelled out
A brilliant night of National League football saw Forest Green and Tranmere Rovers produce a superb 2-2 draw at The New Lawn, writes Richard Joyce.
Twice FGR led, but twice the visitors came back to earn a point on a wet Tuesday night in Gloucestershire, as two of the fifth tiers stand out sides came together for a entertaining midweek contest.
From as early as the third minute Mark Cooper’s men led via Christian Doidge, but after Lois Maynard replied instantly, Liam Noble’s sweet strike restored the Forest Green lead.
Former New Lawn favourite James Norwood spoiled the party in the second half though as he struck to earn Tranmere a share of the spoils.
It was Noble’s excellent guided pass that allowed Doidge to open the scoring in a hectic opening, as the Welsh striker coolly slotted home.
But the Tranmere response was swift and Maynard rose highest at the back post to head the away side level just two minutes later.
A bright opening saw Darren Carter and Keanu Marsh-Brown denied soon after, while Tranmere keeper Scott Davies produced a stunning one handed stop on 14 minutes from Marsh-Brown’s hit that looked destined for the net after Daniel Wishart had slammed a shot onto the post.
Forest Green’s persistence in front of the Tranmere goal paid off near to the half hour mark when Noble steered his team into the lead again.
He picked up Doidge’s lay-off on the edge of the area and guided the ball home triumphantly for what was a definite reward for FGR’s attacking enthusiasm.
Noble had another terrific effort on 42 minutes that flew just wide at the end of a eye-catching opening 45 minutes.
Micky Mellon’s Tranmere came into the tie more in the second half, and were it not for a vital block by Charlie Clough, Portsmouth loanee Ben Tollitt would have come close to drawing parity once again.
After substitute Norwood had teamed up with fellow ex-FGR man Andy Mangan for a shot that trickled wide, the former scored the only goal of the second half with a terrific finish, as he powered an effort into the bottom corner.
Keen to snatch back the lead, Forest Green hit the post again. This time it was Marsh-Brown who was denied by the upright after he had got on the end of a teasing Carter ball into the area.
Another huge chance minutes later saw Doidge fail to score his second when he came across Marsh-Brown’s delivery into the danger zone, as the game opened up in the final quarter of an hour.
Noble blasted over, and at the other end Tollitt came close, with Mangan seeing another attempt blocked away for a corner.
Sam Russell was called upon to make two key saves at the death. He first denied former teammate Norwood, and then kept out Mangan’s drive after the striker had burst through, to ensure both teams shared the points in what was an eventful and appealing encounter.
Report: Richard Joyce
Photo: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images
Highlights: Nick Osbourne & Richard Joyce