Matt Edwards
Saturday 21 July 2018

Forest Green Rovers controlled proceedings against League One opposition as they ran out 1-0 winners over Bristol Rovers at The New Lawn.

Christian Doidge’s spot-kick was enough to secure the victory in Rovers’ second and final pre-season fixture in front of a home crowd.

With manager Mark Cooper stating he was getting closer to knowing his team for the first game of the season, only one change was made to the side that played Leeds United on Tuesday night, Reece Brown coming in for Dayle Grubb.

It was good work from Brown saw FGR come away from their defensive third down the left before the ball was worked into the middle of the pitch to Lloyd James.

The midfielder took a touch before threading the ball between the full-back and right central defender for Doidge to latch onto perfectly before taking it away from Adam Smith in the Bristol goal and drawing a penalty.

Last season’s top scorer, who already has two goals from the penalty spot, made no mistake as the ball nestled into the right corner.

Just a minute later and the outstretched body of Carl Winchester flying through the air nearly got enough on the ball for a second but the ball was deflected behind for a corner.

FGR were given a let off at the end of the first half as Robert Sanchez slipped in possession but with an open goal gaping, Tom Nichols’ trickled shot rolled wide of the post.

It was a quick start for the home side again in the second half and they had the ball in the back of the net after just two minutes, only for the linesman’s flag to deny them.

It was James again with the delivery, this time from a free-kick from deep down the left flank and it was delightfully drifted in and Doidge met it with his head to plant the ball into the back of the net but the goal was chalked off.

At the other end, Robert Sanchez, starting his first game in front of the home faithful, was controlling his box well, coming for a cross from Mo Baghdadi and punching well.

FGR continued to press high in the final third and it almost paid dividends in the 61st minute when Carl Winchester caught James Clarke in possession inside the area before James saw his lobbed effort saved by Smith.

The final chance of the game for the hosts came 11 minutes from time as a corner was played to the back post and Doidge rose well again but his header was cleared frantically by Bristol in the six-yard box as Rovers had to settle for a win by a single goal.