Rovers off to a positive start
FOREST Green kicked off their pre-season campaign in positive style with a solid victory over local outfit Brimscombe & Thrupp, writes Richard Joyce.
It was a historical occasion for Brimscombe who were playing for the first time under their newly installed floodlights and the Hellenic Division One West side put on a brave show against their professional counterparts.
Manager Dave Hockaday elected to field two separate elevens in either half with the club’s six summer additions all tasting life for the first time in a Forest Green shirt.
James Rowe produced the season’s first shot in anger in the opening minute but his effort rolled well wide, before former Forest Green man Lee Pritchard created the host’s first chance with a powerfully struck volley just off target.
Forest Green would secure their opening goal with nine minutes gone when Rovers under 18’s boss Gary Probert, an important part of the playing squad at the Meadow, was unfortunate to see a penalty given against him for a foul on Reece Styche.
Styche stepped up to fire in the resultant penalty past Brimscombe keeper Adam Thomas to open his account for Rovers pre-season campaign.
Many would have thought that Rovers early opener would be the starting part of a flood of goals but it was in fact Brimscombe who responded immediately with an opportunity that should have seen the scores levelled.
Excellent work by Pritchard saw the left winger produce a perfectly placed cross for Mish Green who blasted over from point blank range leaving Matt Bulman’s goal net untouched.
As the half went on Rovers began to grow in confidence and Ben Wright’s lowly drilled shot ended up just wide from distance.
Probert then made up for giving away the penalty by producing a superb off the line clearance to deny Omar Koroma who went close again just a minute later with a curled effort.
Despite Rovers swathe of late chances the score line remained 0-1 going into the break and a raft of Forest Green changes saw a completely different eleven begin the second period with Phil Marsh and Eddie Asafu-Adjaye given their chance to shine.
And it was Marsh himself who within five minutes of the second half beginning combined superbly with Matt Taylor to help the ex-Manchester United forward produce a snap shot on goal that was stopped by Rob Brown, Rovers third choice stopper who was gaining match practice playing the half in between the sticks for Brimscombe.
James Norwood’s low cross shortly after was turned in by found Taylor, only for the striker to be flagged for offside, while Brown did brilliantly to save a long distance strike from Norwood before also stopping Marsh’s follow up.
Asafu-Aadjaye’s 68th minute cross was then headed on to his own bar by Brimscombe substitute and ex-Forest Green reserves youngster Will Haddrell and Brown was on hand once more to make a good save from an Eddie Oshodi header via a Norwood corner.
Forest Green’s second goal would eventually come courtesy of the lively Taylor who smashed in from a close angle to double Rovers lead.
Another final disallowed goal for Yan Klukowski from a Marsh cross was to be the final event for an historic night at the Meadow which marked a positive beginning to Rovers pre-season schedule.