NEXT TIME OUT... Northampton Town (Kids Go Free)

Harry Abbott
Saturday 07 March 2020

Forest Green Rovers stunned league leaders Swindon Town as a first goal since November for both Matty Stevens and Ebou Adams secured a superb 2-0 victory on the road this afternoon.

Rovers raced out of the blocks and Stevens broke the deadlock after just four minutes before a combination of resilient defending from Chris Stokes and the woodwork kept Swindon at bay until the break.

Again, the visitors struck early in the second half and Adams’ looping header doubled the lead after 50 minutes to silence the County Ground.

Swindon began to run out of ideas as the contest drew to a close and more outstanding work at the back from the visitors nullified all their opponents had to offer as FGR claimed a first league win since January.

Head coach Mark Cooper made four changes to the Rovers team that started the narrow defeat at Scunthorpe United a fortnight ago, as Stevens, Dominic Bernard, Elliot Frear and Jack Aitchison all came into the side.

George Williams and Aaron Collins both dropped to the bench, with Farrend Rawson and Liam Kitching missing out altogether due to injury. Alongside Bernard, Matt Mills was another fresh addition to the matchday 18 after being named amongst the substitutes.

Rovers got off to a dream start and stunned the league leaders by breaking the deadlock from their first attack with just four minutes on the clock. Frear whipped the ball in from the left and Stevens escaped the attentions of Zeki Fryers before stretching to turn the ball home via the post.

The home side looked for a swift response and Keshi Anderson had two sights of goal in quick succession. Stokes got in a brave block to deny the first chance before the Swindon forward fired his next effort into the side netting.

Eoin Doyle then made a nuisance of himself in the Rovers box but the division’s top scorer saw his shot on the turn saved by Lewis Thomas.

FGR went straight on the attack and home keeper Steven Benda was alert to smother the ball at the feet of Stevens after another excellent low cross from Frear.

Stokes was in fine form at the back for Rovers and put his body on the line again to thwart Anthony Grant as the Swindon midfielder let fly with a powerful effort after charging towards the box.

Frear was proving a constant threat for FGR and another cross from the left almost led to the visitors doubling their advantage six minutes before the break. Home defender Rarmani Edmonds-Green sliced his clearance and was fortunate to see the ball bobble across the face of goal before being hacked away.

While Frear impressed at one end, Stokes continued to shine at the other and a superb goalline clearance kept Rovers ahead with just three minutes of the first half to play.

Diallang Jaiyesimi picked out Jerry Yates in space in the box and although his shot beat keeper Thomas, Stokes positioned himself perfectly to prevent it crossing the line.

Fortune was with FGR in first-half stoppage time and the woodwork came to their rescue as Anderson’s dipping effort from 30 yards cannoned down off the bar and onto the goalline before being safely gathered by Thomas.

Anderson was first to threaten after the change of ends and saw a drive from distance sail safely wide of the Rovers goal.

However, just as they had done in the first half, FGR struck early in the second and doubled their lead with 50 minutes on the clock. A long ball over the top from Stokes was chased by Aitchison and his cross into the box was met by a header from Adams, which looped perfectly into the top corner to silence the home crowd.

The action was now coming thick and fast and the visitors again had the woodwork to thank just a minute later as Yates’ flicked effort hit the post before being cleared.

Cooper made his first change midway through the second half as Josh March came on to replace Aitchison.

Swindon were rattled and FGR pushed for a third goal and Edmonds-Green got in a timely block to nullify a dangerous cross from Frear after he was set free up the left by Nathan McGinley.

The hosts were getting desperate and were frantically appealing for a penalty when Doyle went down in the box in a duel with McGinley with 15 minutes to go but referee Craig Hicks was not interested.

Rovers remained resolute until the very end and a superb challenge by Udoka Godwin-Malife inside the six-yard box denied Paul Caddis a shot at goal in stoppage time as the visitors left with a clean sheet to go alongside their impressive three points.

Swindon XI: Benda, Fryers, Yates (Hope 59’), Doughty (c), Hunt, Jaiyesimi (Muskwe 59’), Doyle, Anderson (Isgrove 72’), Caddis, Grant, Edmonds-Green

Unused subs: Broadbent, Palmer, Woolery, McCormick

Forest Green XI: Thomas, Bernard, Winchester (c), Stevens, Adams, Frear, Dawson, McGinley, Godwin-Malife, Aitchison (March 68’), Stokes

Unused subs: Logan, Mills, Collins, Williams, Hall, Brown

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 9,257

Man of the match: Chris Stokes

Next time out: Northampton Town, The New Lawn, Saturday, March 14, 3pm