Next time out... Macclesfield Town (A)

Matt Edwards
Saturday 18 January 2020

Forest Green Rovers were unable to make player advantage in the dying moments of their contest with Salford City count as they lost 2-1 at The New Lawn.

Ibou Touray saw a third-minute strike cancelled out by Josh March getting his first professional goal on his Forest Green home debut in the 11th minute.

However, Michael O’Connor struck in the 55th minute on his debut to give the visitors all three points as they saw Richie Towell and Ashley Hunter sent off late on.

Head coach Mark Cooper made no changes to the starting XI for the first time since the middle of November when we hosted Plymouth Argyle.

Meanwhile, Salford made four changes to their side that lost to Northampton Town, new signing Michael O’Connor coming straight into the side.

With the ends being switched for the first half, FGR found themselves playing into the setting sun in the first period.

It could have played some role in the opening goal that came just three minutes into the half when a free-kick went directly in from the right-hand side.

Left-back Touray took the free-kick that was won by Ashley Hunter, and while Adam Rooney looked to flick it on from an offside position, he didn't actually make contact and it went straight in from the set-piece.

It was a bolt from the blue and Forest Green gave the perfect response as they immediately cranked up the pressure on the visitors.

It took less than eight minutes for a deserved equaliser to come, through March’s first professional goal.

Dom Bernard fizzed in a low cross into the area and although Junior Mondal couldn't direct his flick on target, March was on hand to control the ball and fire home spinning away to celebrate with the fans behind the goal in the South Stand.

In the 17th minute, FGR had to be alert defensively when a Salford free-kick from a central position was sent into the box, and a great interception from Ebou Adams denied Nathan Pond latching onto it, before Bernard put in a great block and the ball cannoned off Rawson for a corner.

It was good play from Salford in the 23rd minute when they worked the ball wide right from Hunter to Adam Rooney, his delivery was turned over the bar by Brandon Asante sliding in.

On the 28th minute, Forest Green had the base of the post to thank for being level when Hunter struck it from a tight angle.

As he name suggests, he hunted down the ball to intercept Farrend Rawson's pass back to Adam Smith, took it around the keeper but hit the woodwork off balance.

In the 33rd minute, March, full of confidence from his first strike went in search of a second, his half volley from the edge of the box deflected behind for a corner.

He proved to be FGR’s main goal threat, and three minutes later showed great endeavour to win the ball on the byline from Pond, his shot from a tight angle saved by Kyle Letheren.

The final chance of the half came two minutes into added time when Brown picked the pocket of Michael O’Connor, on a yellow card for a previous tactical foul on Adams, and drove at the box, but his shot was saved by Letheren.

Forest Green started the second half well, buoyed by the support of the crowd behind them, but it was Salford to put themselves back in front in the 55th minute.

Rooney’s cross from the left was superbly turned behind at the back post by Bernard, with Bruno Andrade, on as a half-time sub, waiting to pounce at the back post.

However, the corner from the left came in and dropped in the middle of the area for O’Connor to run onto and fire through a host of diving FGR bodies.

In the 60th minute, Forest Green went in search of the equaliser for the second time in the game and came close from the foot of Carl Winchester, his effort from the edge of the box curling just over the corner of the bar.

In the 73rd minute, Elliott Frear, brought on at the break for Aitchison, set fellow sub Aaron Collins just inside the box, but the forward’s effort went just wide of the near post.

Just one minute later, Salford were reduced to 10 men when Towell, who had earlier been booked for a late challenge on Bernard, was penalised for handling the ball and given his marching orders.

In the 83rd minute, the man advantage nearly counted as Collins created space for himself perfectly in the box and his low, powerful shot came firing back off the foot of the post, with the keeper well beaten.

Despite FGR being camped in the final third of the pitch for the remainder of the game, they were unable to break down the 10 men behind the ball.

Salford were reduced to nine men in the depths of injury time when Hunter got a second yellow for simulation.

Forest Green XI: Smith, Bernard, Rawson, Winchester, Adams, Brown (Collins 60’), Kitching, J. Mills (c), Mondal, March (McCoulsky 75’), Aitchison (Frear 45’)

Unused subs: Thomas, M Mills, Dawson, McGinley

Salford XI: Letheren, Wiseman, Touray, Rooney (Hughes 78’), Burgess, Towell, Pond, Asante (Baldwin 66’), O’Connor, Jervis (Andrade 45’), Hunter

Unused subs:  Neal, Elliott, Conway

Referee: Nicholas Kinseley

Attendance: 2,707 (132)

Man of the match: Liam Kithcing

Match Sponsor: Pulsin & Faith in Nature

Ball Sponsor: Tideford

Next time out: Macclesfield, Moss Rose, Saturday, January 25, 3pm