Noah Dougherty
Monday 22 April 2019

Forest Green Rovers confirmed their place in the League Two play-offs with a 2-1 home win over Cambridge United.

Gavin Gunning notched his first goal of the season to open the scoring before Christian Doidge put Rovers back in front after a Paul Lewis equaliser.

Manager Mark Cooper made two changes, one enforced as Dayle Grubb came in for the injured George Williams, while Gavin Gunning was a like-for-like replacement for Lee Collins.

Goalkeeper James Montgomery was called into action after just four minutes as he had to be on his toes to palm away a powerful Louis John strike, the centre-back trying his luck from range.

An early chance fell the way of Joseph Mills as his ball in from the left almost caught out Dimitar Mitov who had to push behind for a corner.

From the resulting ball in, Doidge climbed highest, but he couldn’t direct his header on target.

With 24 minutes on the clock it was the home side who took the lead as Gunning made a move to the front post to deftly nod Dayle Grubb’s corner inside the far post.

With set-pieces proving fruitful for Forest Green, they could have had a second from a corner as the ball was half cleared to Mills who saw his effort charged down inside the area.

The left-back had another opportunity with five minutes of the half to play as, following some brilliant build-up, he once again saw his goal-bound effort blocked.

But for the woodwork in front of the North Stand, the hosts would have been two goals to the good at the break, Grubb’s free-kick from a wide position evading everyone before bouncing off the far upright.

The start to the second half was a bright one for Forest Green, and Grubb could have forced an opening as he found a ball to Mills down the left and the full-backs’ cross made it to Junior Mondal at the back post, only to see his effort blocked.

Just before the hour mark, Grubb was involved once again as he set the ball to Carl Winchester on the edge of the area before he gave it to Liam Shephard. The right-back unlucky to see his low cross blocked.

After a good spell of possession, and the introduction of Jabo Ibehre and Jevani Brown, the visitors pulled themselves level in style.

Lewis found space a long way from goal and his driven effort beat James Montgomery and flew into the bottom corner.

Reece Brown was next to try his luck for Rovers as he cut onto his right foot but his effort was comfortably saved by Mitov.

The midfield maestro caused yet more trouble minutes later as his ball was helped onto Mills who was denied only by a brilliant block from Harry Darling.

With just 15 minutes to play, Forest Green putting themselves back in the driving seat thanks to Doidge.

A deep Grubb corner to the back post was headed back toward goal by Gunning and, although Mondal was denied from close range, Doidge was on hand to pounce on the scramble and smash the ball home.

A late corner for Cambridge could have snuck in, but John's looping header dropped just over the crossbar.

Forest Green Rovers XI: Montgomery, Shephard, Rawson, Winchester, Grubb, Doidge, Brown (Digby 90'), Gunning, McGinley, Mills, Mondal (Reid 83’)

Unused subs: Ward, James, Collins, McCoulsky, Godwin-Malife

Cambridge United XI: Mitov, Carroll, Taylor (Knowles 85’), Deegan, Amoo (Ibehre 60’), Hepburn-Murphy, Darling, Davies (Brown 60’), Lewis, John, Coulson

Unused subs: Iron, Taft, Dunk, Lambe

Referee: Thomas Bramall

Attendance: 2,699 (232 away)

Man of the Match: Joseph Mills

Match and ball sponsor: Grundon