Matt Edwards
Saturday 09 February 2019

Forest Green Rovers fell to a first defeat in four as they were beaten 2-1 by a revived Notts County side at The New Lawn.

It remained goalless in the first half despite both sides going toe-to-toe but the game took life around 60 minutes.

Jim O’Brien gave the visitors the lead in the 57th minute with a good strike before FGR responded almost immediately through Joseph Mill’s well-struck free-kick.

Enzio Boldewijn then showed an individual  bit of brilliance to be the difference with 11 minutes left on the clock to decide the encounter.

Manager Mark Cooper made three changes from the game against Mansfield Town, starting with the team that ended that fixture, as Lewis Ward made his first FGR start alongside Lloyd James and Reuben Reid both coming into the starting XI.

As expected from a County side boosted by several January arrivals and buoyed but a good result against table-toppers Lincoln City the week before, it was a bright start for the visitors.

Inside the first minute Ward was called into action as he had to be alert when O’Brien threaded through Virgil Gomis, his effort well saved before Craig Mackail-Smith saw an effort blocked behind for a corner.

FGR were under the cosh as they twice had to defend balls in from their left before the second set-piece fell kindly to Enzio Boldewijn on the edge of the box, his dipping effort forcing an acrobatic stop from Ward over his own bar.

In the 13th minute, FGR had their first sight on goal as Paul Digby delivered a great ball to find Liam Shephard running in behind down the right, his cut-back found Chrsitian Doidge whose shot lacked power and Notts were able to clear.

In the 23rd minute Joseph Mills was given space 25 yards out and opted to try his luck and it was almost his day as the deflected shot looped and took a fine tip from Notts keeper Ryan Schofield to divert the ball over the crossbar for a corner which came to nothing.

County fans thought they had taken the lead in the 24th minute when Boldewijn played through Gomis but his shot hit the side of the netting to the relief of the home faithful.

On the half-hour mark, the ball fell kindly to Carl Winchester in the box but he went for placement over power and the effort was well blocked.

The first half petered out with neither side able to make a mark on the scoreline before the referee blew for the break.

In the 55th minute Reid looked like he had an impossible angle as he let fly from the right of the box but Schofield made a superb save at his near post, pushing the ball onto the bar before Doidge was unable to capitalise on the loose ball.

The game sprang into life around the hour-mark, and it was the visitors who got the important first goal as he struck home in the 57th minute from just inside the box with a first-time effort on his wrong foot that left Ward with no chance.

However, the lead was short-lived when Notts goalkeeper Ryan Schofield misjudged the perimeters of his box and handled outside the box.

He was only given a yellow card but his punishment wasn’t finished there as Mills lined up the free-kick and hit a thunderbolt through the wall and past the hapless stopper to bring the hosts back level.

Rovers thought they had given themselves the lead then in the 69th minute when George Williams, freshly on as a sub for Reid, was played in beautifully and despite finding the back of the net with a first-time finish, the linesman’s flag ruled him out.

However, it was the visitors who struck again in the 79th minute courtesy of a fine individual effort from Boldewijn as he cut off the right wing and curled into the top corner from the edge of the box.

In the 85th minute Ward was called into a good save to deny Kane Hemmings, recently introduced off the bench, with a diving save to his left.

Despite six minutes added on at the end of the game, FGR were unable to force an equaliser and fell to a tough defeat to swallow.

Forest Green Rovers XI: Ward, Shephard, James (McCoulsky 79’), Rawson, Winchester (Mondal 90+3'), Doidge, Brown, Gunning, Digby, Mills, Reid (Williams 67’)

Unused subs: Thomas, Collins, Liddle, McGinley

Notts County XI: Schofield, Barclay, Gomis, Boldewijn (Hemmings 67’), Stubbs, O’Brien, Milson, Rose, Mackail-Smith (Hewitt 74’), Stead (Alessandra 74’), Doyle

Unused subs: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Bird, Vaughan

Attendance: 2,871 (534)

Referee: Neil Hair

Man of the Match: Joseph Mills

Match Sponsor: Café Direct

Matchball Sponsor: Frazer Wealth Management