NEXT TIME OUT... Walsall (H)

Noah Dougherty
Saturday 01 February 2020

Forest Green Rovers and Grimsby Town battled the conditions to play out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Blundell Park.

Odin Bailey got off the mark for Forest Green in superb style to cancel out Charles Vernam’s strike in the first half, before Jack Aitchison handed the visitors the lead five minutes after the break.

Anthony Glennon restored parity less than three minutes later though.

Mark Cooper made four changes to the side that lost at home to Carlisle United on Tuesday, as Dom Bernard and Nathan McGinley came into the backline for Matt Mills and the injured Liam Shephard.

Celtic loanee Aitchison returned to the front line in place of Aaron Collins, while Kevin Dawson came into a three-man midfield.

Having seen a goal gifted to them on their last visit, Grimsby wouldn’t have wanted to see James McKeown scuff a clearance in the fifth minute to the feet of Carl Winchester in space, but his shot from distance was blocked.

The swirling wind on the north east coast was definitely having an impact of proceedings, with FGR struggling to get much distance on their clearances.

It was the hosts who got that wind in their sails in the 19th minute when James Hanson played in Anthony Glennon down the left.

His cross was set in the middle for Vernam to run onto eight yards out and convert past Logan.

There was little of goalmouth action, despite the goal putting the hosts on the front foot and in a comfortable position with the lead.

It was a goal of quality that put Forest Green back on a level playing field in the 32nd minute.

McGinley gave the ball over to Bailey 30 yards out and he took it upon his young shoulders to create some space before unleashing his shot into the top corner, giving McKeown no chance.

It could, and arguably should, have been a second just four minutes later, with the tide well and truly turned by the equaliser and the wind now blowing favourably.

Bailey whipped in a delightful ball from the right this time, and while McKeown was able to palm away, it fell invitingly for Aitchison at the back post but, off balance and falling backwards, his shot skied over the bar.

In the 39th minute it took a great save from McKeown to deny Josh March his second in Forest Green colours at the back post.

His header from Bailey's corner looked destined for the top corner, but McKeown was able to tip the ball over for a corner.

It took five minutes of the second half before FGR made the most of the wind on their backs as they took the lead through Aitchison.

However, it wasn’t through the aerial route, but a low, threaded pass from Kitching that put the Scotsman in behind the Grimsby defence and he finished with aplomb, low into the far corner.

It proved to be a short-lived advantage, as Grimsby found the equaliser three minutes later.

A delivery in from the right was nodded down in the middle by Hanson, and Glennon was on hand, having snuck in off the opposite flank, to prod home inside the six-yard box.

The game continued to lack clear chances, despite the scoreline, until the 80th minute when it kicked into life with both sides sensing a chance to get three much-needed points.

Vernam built up a head of steam as he charged towards the Rovers box, but his shot flew over the bar.

Ebou Adams then gave away a free-kick on the right corner of the box in the 81st minute. Billy Clarke stood over it but Logan was equal to it, claiming the ball in front of the crossbar above his head.

It was the Mansfield loanee that thought quickly and set FGR away straight down the other end and after some good play from Bailey, he rolled the ball to substitute Rob Hall inside the area, his first-time effort saved well by McKeown.

Grimsby Town XI: McKeown, Hendrie, Ohman, Hanson (Green 83’), Whitehouse (Wright 83’), Clifton (Tilley 55’), Clarke, Vernam, Benson, Pollock, Glennon

Unused subs: Russell, Waterfall, Hewitt, Buckley

Forest Green XI: Logan, Bernard, Rawson, Winchester (c), Adams, Dawson (Hall 62’), McGinley, Kitching, March (Colins 85’), Aitchison (Stevens 90’), Bailey

Unused subs: Thomas, M.Mills, Williams, Frear

Referee: Paul Marsden

Attendance:  4,675 (76)

Man of the match: Odin Bailey

Next time out: Walsall, The New Lawn, Saturday, February 8, 3.00pm