Matt Edwards
Wednesday 18 July 2018

Forest Green Rovers were made to work hard for a share of the spoils as they drew 2-2 with Swindon Supermarine.

The home side, fresh off a promotion via the play-offs last term to the Southern League Premier Division, were a decent opposition for a Rovers side who had only played Leeds United 24 hours prior.

Mark Cooper used the game to give some much-needed minutes into some of his squad, with Lee Collins starting his first game of pre-season alongside three players from the Under 18s.

It was one of those three, Dan Ogunleye, who pulled FGR back level in the first half with a composed finish before the more experienced Scott Laird levelled late on at the Webbswood Stadium in another good run out.

The hosts made a quick start to proceedings and it wasn’t long before they had Forest Green on the back foot.

The ball was worked well out to the right flank and Conor McDonagh turned inside before firing low across goal and into the bottom corner, beating an outstretched Lewis Thomas, replacing James Montgomery in goal.

FGR looked for an immediate response and almost found it when Laird made it in behind the defence but was twice thwarted by Kev Sawyer in the Marine goal.

The leveller came just before the half-hour mark, when Reece Brown’s defence splitting ball from deep saw Ogunleye latch onto the ball and showed maturity beyond his years to calmly slot underneath the body of Sawyer.

Theo Archibald, with a couple of goals to his name already this pre-season, played from the start and had a chance on the edge of the box in the 32nd minute, firing in a low drive that stung the palms of Sawyer but fell kindly behind for a corner.

It was the young Scotsman who again went close to giving the visitors the lead before the break, finding the ball at a tight angle inside the box down the right but Sawyer was equal to his shot to keep the scores level.

Skipper Lee Collins and influential Reece Brown were replaced at the break by Reuben Reid and George Williams, who had both played large chunks of the match the night before.

Laird had the first chance of the second period as he forced a save from the Swindon stopper in the 48th minute.

At the other end meanwhile, former Forest Green forward Stuart Fleetwood tried an audacious chip from outside the box and while beating Thomas he also cleared the bar.

Jordan Simpson had to be alert on the goal line in the 54th minute when Michael Hopkins curled a cross towards the far post that had too much on it but nearly crept into the corner, only for the Forest Green midfielder to be in the right place to head clear.

Supermarine went close to restoring their advantage just three minutes later when Brad Hooper hit a shot on the half volley on the turn and despite beating Thomas, he was unable to beat the post.

It was a warning sign that Forest Green did not heed as Fleetwood caused trouble for the backline again, forcing Haydn Hollis into a foul only for Josh Parsons to step up and curl the ball around the wall and inside the right-hand post.

However, it was another positive response from Cooper’s side and they got their rewards for a strong end to the game with six minutes left on the clock.

The ball bounced kindly for Laird in the area but he finished like a poacher as he connected sweetly with his half volley with the outside of the boot, leaving the Supermarine defence with no chance.

The game still had enough time left in it for impressive young 16-year-old Dan Jones to pick the ball up in space on the edge of the box but his shot on goal just evaded the post.