Klukowski brace seals late United draw
YAN Klukowski secured Forest Green a fine late draw in their final pre-season fixture of the summer against a Manchester United XI, writes Richard Joyce.
A large New Lawn crowd of over 3,200, including guest of honour Gary Neville, witnessed Klukowski bag a fine brace as Rovers came from behind twice in a fine occasion for the Sustainability in Sport foundation.
Manchester United’s outfit was littered with stars of the future but Rovers more than illustrated their quality with the league season getting underway next weekend.
Forest Green boss Dave Hockaday was left with no doubt more injury headaches after Paul Green was stretchered off against Wealdstone on Friday, this time Jamie Turley left the field early and Jared Hodgkiss was also stretchered off late on.
The matches opening was far from spectacular with the United youngsters dominating proceedings with some slick stylish football, while Forest Green struggled to gain a firm foot in the game.
In fact the large New Lawn crowd would have to wait for just past the half hour mark for the games first major talking point and it was the first periods only goal.
Larnell Cole’s cross from the right found Joshua King at the back post and despite getting a hand to it, Sam Russell couldn’t stop King from heading powerfully in to the back of the net.
As the half went on Rovers began to show the style of football home fans are use to seeing, and Yan Klukowski’s 35th minute pull back from the right hand side reached the on rushing James Rowe, who could only stretch to knock the ball wide.
United’s Tom Lawrence then tried his luck with a chipped effort that passed over Russell’s crossbar after the young midfielder had forced his way through the Rovers defence.
Manchester United went in to the interval on top but it wouldn’t take long in to the second period for Rovers to draw level.
Hard work up top by Magno Vieira saw the ball eventually fall to Klukowski whose driving strike from just outside the box flew in to the back of the net past Sam Johnstone.
James Rowe’s free kick shortly after was floated just wide meanwhile half time replacement James Norwood, had his close range header saved by Johnstone from an Ed Asafu-Adjaye cross with the follow up blasted over by Klukowski.
Unlike the opening forty-five minutes, Rovers were dominating the opening of the second, but Russell still had to be on his guard to block a deflected Gladstony effort and the follow up from Luke Givern.
The Forest Green shot stopper could do nothing however to stop a fantastic low volley from Brazilian substitute Agnaldo who blasted in to put the visitors back in front.
Matt Taylor’s shot straight at Johnstone marked the Forest Green response, and another effort smashed in to the back of the terrace from Taylor again failed to trouble the United goal.
A one handed stop by Russell denied the athletic King as the match closed in on the final ten minutes with two of Forest Green’s late substitutes, Reece Styche and Ben Wright, combining for Styche to head frustratingly wide from Wright’s curved ball.
Forest Green’s leveller would eventually come right at the death, mirroring Rovers late equaliser at Wealdstone two days earlier.
Another delicious Wright cross, this time from the left, was nodded back across the goal by Norwood and Klukowski bagged his brace, steering in a simple header.
It was a fitting finale in what was a very level and entertaining affair with Rovers taking to the field next in their opening Blue Square Bet Premier fixture of the season against Cambridge United.
Forest Green: Russell, Hodgkiss (Forbes 88),Turley (Collins 66), Oshodi (Trialist 73), Asafu-Adjaye, Bangura, Klukowski,Rowe, Marsh © (Norwood 46), Vieira (Wright 82), Taylor (Styche 82)
Subs not used: Brown, Williams
Man Utd: Johnstone, Veseli, Fornasier, Blackett, James; Cole, Giverin, Januzaj (Agnaldo 51), Daehli (Gladstony 51); Lawrence (Barmby 59), King.
Subs not used: Gollini, van Velzen