Noah Dougherty
Wednesday 07 November 2018

Mark Cooper made seven changes to the side that lost at Lincoln City last week as the likes of James Montgomery, Ben Morris and Isaac Pearce came into the side.

An impressive display from Freddie Ljungberg's Arsenal Under 21 side saw Forest Green rovers slip to a 3-1 defeat at The New Lawn.

Joe Willock opened the scoring from the spot after 41 minutes before he added a second just two minutes later.

Although Dayle Grubb handed Rovers a lifeline just after the hour mark, Tyreece John-Jules rounded off the encounter with five minutes remaining.

Forest Green started the brighter of the two sides and dominated possession in the early stages but struggled to create a clear opening inside the first quarter of an hour.

The first chance for the hosts came via the right boot of striker Ben Morris as he drove wide before firing across goal from range, but his effort dropped just wide.

Following the 20 minute mark the young Arsenal side seemed to grow into the game a little and with half an hour on the clock as James Olayinka found space on the left before sharply cutting inside and firing goalwards, his effort comfortable for James Montgomery.

With a little over half an hour on the clock, Pearce was forced withdraw through injury, Dayle Grubb coming on and minutes later he was amongst the action.

Winning a free-kick 25 yards from goal, there was only ever one person going to take it, the substitutes effort forcing a smart save from Deyan Iliev.

With 41 minutes on the clock, and both teams threatening, the Gunners took the lead. Bukayo Saka picked the ball up inside his own half and showed good speed and strength to drive towards the Rovers box before being brought down by George Williams, the referee pointing straight to the penalty spot.

Just two minutes later the visitors doubled their advantage as Matt Worthington found his pocket picked before Willock was slid through on goal and once again found the net with a tidy finish.

With 62 minutes on the clock Forest Green finally created a clear opportunity as Grubb drove into the area down the left before showing great footwork under pressure and sliding the ball past Iliev into the far corner.

With their advantage halved, the Gunners looked eager to add to their lead once again and had several opportunities to drive at the Forest Green backline although they couldn’t make the final ball to create a clear chance. Their closest opportunity coming as Montgomery pulled off a save to deny Saka on the half-volley from inside the area.

With 85 minutes on the clock Forest Green's chances of winning the encounter were put to bed as Cohen Bramall got the better of Theo Archibald before crossing to John-Jules to finish first time at the back post.

Attendance: 1602

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Man of the Match: Dayle Grubb

Forest Green Rovers XI: Montgomery, Rawson, Williams, Gunning, Pearce, Archibald, McGinley, Digby, Worthington, Morris, Reid

On the bench: Sanchez, James, Winchester, Grubb (Pearce 37’), Brown (Digby 66’), Campbell (Reid 57’), Mills

Arsenal U21 XI: Iliev, Ballard, Bola, Bramall, Pleguezuelo, Willock, Zelalem, Coyle, John-Jules, Olayinka, Saka

On the bench: Gilmour (Zelalem 45’), Medley, Omole, Thompson, Balogun (Saka 90'), Smith, Hein

Image: Shane Healey/Pro Sports Images