Matt Edwards
Saturday 07 December 2019

Forest Green Rovers were left to rue a missed penalty as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at home to Scunthorpe United.

The scores were level at the time when Matty Stevens had his effort saved by Jake Eastwood, before goals from Alex Giliead and Abo Eisa secured the three points for the visitors.

Head coach Mark Cooper was forced into one change, Joseph Mills being taken ill on the Friday, replaced by brother Matt Mills.

Two further changes came to FGR’s starting XI, Kevin Dawson making his first start since returning from injury, while Lewis Thomas came in in goal.

The opening 15 minutes of the game were incredibly scrappy, with yellow cards providing the only real talking points, both James Pearch and Kevin van Veen going in the book early on for the visitors.

It took until the 16th minute for the first real chance of note to be mustered, lovely interplay on the edge of box saw Ebou Adams looking to thread in Liam Shephard, but his ball had just a bit too much on it, running through to Jake Eastwood in the Scunthorpe goal.

It was the full-back who was winning a corner in the 19th minute that so nearly led to the opening goal for Forest Green.

The corner dropped to Rawson, in space, and his first-time effort was cleared by Jordan Clarke, who was positioned in the perfect place on the line.

In the 25th minute, Kevin van Veen got a sight of goal from the edge of the box but he sliced his effort that went well wide of the target.

Three minutes later and it was the woodwork that was denying striker Matty Stevens.

Aitchison was somehow able to work the ball through to him in the box despite being surrounded by red shirts, but FGR’s number nine just lifted the ball a bit too high, trying to get it over Eastwood, and struck the top of the bar.

In the 33rd minute, Stevens put a good ball in from the right, which was headed away by Jordan Clarke, only for Winchester to fire over the bar with the follow-up from outside the box.

Scunthorpe’s best chance of the half came deep into first-half injury time,  Eisa getting past Shephard down the left, his low cross evading Thomas but Matt Mills was there to clear away after a touch.

Rovers made a bright start to the second half and were presented with a golden opportunity to take control of the tie when Rawson had his shirt pulled in the box during a corner.

Stevens stepped up and went down the middle, but Eastwood was equal to it, parrying before jumping on the ball before the follow-up can come in.

The breakthrough came through seemingly out of nowhere in the 57th minute for the visitors with what seemed to be their first shot on target.

Moments after the referee had spoken to both benches, Gilliead reacted to Scunthorpe getting things back under way quickly and was away down the right, is shot from the far right finding the far corner.

It was a lead that they would double in the 71st minute when Eisa unleashed a rocket with his right foot from almost 30 yards out, leaving Thomas with little chance, diving at full stretch.

As FGR looked for a route back into the contest, Shephard forced Eastwood into a great save in the 79th minute.

At full stretch, the Scunthorpe stopper clawed away the full-back's free-kick, which looked destined to nestle in the left corner.

Scunthorpe were reduced to 10 men deep into added time when Levi Sutton picked up his second yellow card of the game.

Forest Green XI: Thomas, Shephard, Bernard (McGinley 45’), M Mills, Rawson, Winchester (c), Stevens, Adams, Dawson (Mondal 61’), Kitching, Aitchison (Collins 74’)

Unused subs: Wollacott, Grubb, Morton, Taylor

Scunthorpe XI: Eastwood, Clarke, Ntlhe, van Veen (Proctor 89’), Perch, Novak, Gilliead, Sutton, McArdle, McGahey, Eisa

Unused subs: Watson, Butler, Dales, Ward, Brown, McAtee

Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 2,060 (259)

Man of the match: Farrend Rawson

Match sponsors: Coles Electrical

Matchball sponsors: KB Coaches

Next time out: Carlilse United, Brunton Park, Tuesday, December 10, 7.45pm (FA Cup replay)