Forest Green Rovers were forced to settle for a draw with National League South side Bath City as their final game of pre-season ended 1-1.
Shawn McCoulsky’s fortunate goal after three minutes gave Rovers the lead, but his sixth of pre-season was cancelled out by a Tom Richards header with a quarter of an hour to play.
With the start of the League Two season just one week away, Mark Cooper made four changes to the side that narrowly lost out to Championship Bristol City in midweek.
Carl Winchester came in on the right of a back five, while 19-year-old Liam Kitching replaced Nathan McGinley at centre-back. Ebou Adams also returned to the heart of midfield, with a triallist goalkeeper given the first X minutes in the sticks to impress following the departure of James Montgomery.
Exactly as he did against Bristol City three days previously, McCoulsky put his name on the scoresheet with just three minutes on the clock.
One of the easier goals he’ll get this season, the striker chased down a ball back to the City goalkeeper and Ryan Clarke blasted his clearance against the Rovers man and into the net.
The hosts had the ball in the net after just 10 minutes as a ball over the top was cut back into the area, before the referee’s whistle for a goal kick denied them a prodded equaliser.
Having found the net twice from free-kick’s last campaign, a Joseph Mills set-piece is always greeted with anticipation, his 20th-minute strike being no different on this occasion. Slightly further out than his usual range, the left-back’s curling 30-yarder dropped just over the bar, clipping the top of the stanchion on the way through.
After their less than ideal start to the game, the Romans grew into the encounter and enjoyed a spell of possession with the half hour mark approaching. Adam Mann found himself a pocket of space outside the area after 32 minutes, but his effort caused no trouble for Rovers’ gloved triallist as it flew over the bar.
Andy Watkins could have snatched an equaliser with a little less than ten minutes of the half to play as he pounced on a loose ball in the area following a Bath throw, but his powerful half volley was well blocked by the thigh of Farrend Rawson.
A well worked move through midfield saw Carl Winchester get away down the right with five minutes of the second period gone, but his cross towards half-time substitute Dayle Grubb was well dealt with by Clarke, and Taylor Allen couldn’t connect with the follow-up.
Tyler Harvey went in search of an equaliser for the Romans but, despite the space and time on the edge of the area, the forward leaning back to curl the ball over the bar on his left foot.
The Rovers’ triallist was called into action just after the hour mark as Mann’s ball in forced him to pounce on the ball under pressure with the City striker rushing on.
The Romans battled well, and Richards levelled things up with 76 minutes on the clock as he made a darting run into the area to head home Tom Smith’s cross from the right.
A nice piece of skills saw Ebou Adams set up Rovers final chance of the game as he slipped the ball between a Bath player’s legs before being brought down on the edge of the area.
James Morton stepped up to take the set-piece, but his curling effort beat the wall but lacked power and was gathered by Clarke.