Matt Edwards
Tuesday 17 July 2018

Forest Green Rovers put in a spirited display against Championship side Leeds United but couldn’t overturn a two-goal deficit as they ended up on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline.

It was Kemar Roofe who got the Championship side, playing under manager Marcelo Bielsa for the first time, off the mark in the 14th minute.

Luke Ayling doubled the visitor’s advantage in the 25th minute before Dayle Grubb got his second of pre-season in first-half stoppage time.

The visitors started proceedings brightly and it wasn’t long before James Montgomery in the Forest Green goal had to be alert, a long ball over the top being controlled by Roofe.

However, with the Forest stopper off his line quickly, the ball was forced square to Ezgjan Alioski, who was soon crowded out in the box.

With Roofe testing Montgomery again minutes later, it was never going to be long before he broke the deadlock and that opportunity came from a set-piece in the 14th minute.

The ball from the left was delivered to the back post from a corner and the Leeds forward was able to control on his chest before firing past the defender on the line.

FGR reacted well to going a goal behind and Liam Shephard put in a pass behind that was latched onto by Reuben Reid, whose attempted cut-back in the box was blocked for a corner that came to nothing.

The Championship side doubled their advantage in the 25th minute when Adam Forshaw found space down the left to deliver into the box.

Roofe took a nice touch in the box before flicking the ball onto Ayling who calmly side-footed the ball past Montgomery.

However, Rovers were able to get a foot-hold in the game on the stroke of half-time as Reid turned well in the middle of the park before playing the ball left into the path of Grubb.

As we have come accustomed to seeing, the wideman squared up his defender before dropping the shoulder inside and thumping the ball into the top left corner of the goal.

Manager Mark Cooper made two changes at the break with Reid and George Williams making way for Reece Brown and Theo Archibald and the hosts started the second period strongly.

However, it was Montgomery who was the busier of the two keepers as he had to pull off a good save to deny Samuel Saiz from distance at the angle before coming off his line quickly to deny Alioski inside the opening 10 minutes of the half.

Christian Doidge, fresh from his hat-trick against Weston-super-Mare last Friday nearly netted again in pre-season as he plucked a delightful cross from Joseph Mills out of the summers’ night air.

But his first time effort at the back post was only denied by the strong right-hand of Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Another chance fell Rovers’ way in the 71st minute when the ball dropped nicely for Archibald inside the area but he couldn’t get enough behind his effort to trouble the Leeds stopper.

Despite a couple of late chances for both sides, neither could add to the scoreline as Rovers had to settle for a narrow defeat.