Noah Dougherty
Saturday 19 October 2019

Forest Green Rovers let slip a two-goal lead as they shared the spoils with Mansfield Town at The New Lawn.

Aaron Collins gave Rovers the lead after half an hour before Jack Aitchison doubled the lead shortly after the hour mark, but two quick-fire goals from substitute Andy Cooke levelled things up.

There was one change to the starting XI for Mark Cooper’s side as Liam Shephard returned to the side from injury, with Udoka Godwin-Malife dropping to the bench.

Joining him among the substitutes was Friday signing Elliott Frear, returning to The New Lawn for his second spell at the club after leaving to join Motherwell in January 2017.

Joseph Mills could have given Rovers the perfect the start as he got down the left-hand side before cutting the ball back, but his low cross fell jut behind the Rovers strikers and Mansfield were able to clear.

The left flank was proving fruitful for the hosts and Matty Stevens was almost able to profit after latching onto Aitchison’s clever ball inside, but he was quickly crowded out.

After a spell of dangerous attacking football, it was the hosts who made a deserved breakthrough.

Some quick passing around the edge of the Stags’ 18-yard box saw the ball at the feet of Aaron Collins, and the in-form striker made no mistake as he powered a vicious left-footed strike inside the far post from 25-yards.

Less than a minute after the Mansfield restart, the hosts were going forward again. Collins picked full-back Mal Benning’s pocket before looking to cross, only to see his low ball well blocked.

Liam Shephard, clearly eager to notch his first goal of the season, tried his luck from range as he galloped forward, Conrad Logan getting a firm hand to it to palm away along the floor.

The was no let up in intensity from Rovers as the second half got underway, Ebou Adams appealing for a penalty as he went to ground while turning his man in the area. His claims were waved away by the man in the middle.

Carl Winchester could have netted himself a wondergoal with 54 minutes on the clock, as he took the ball from his own half before seeing a powerful effort saved from the edge of the area.

Mansfield couldn’t keep the Nailsworth side out for long though, loanee Aitchison doubling their lead after 61 minutes.

The youngster’s strike was a fantastic one, driving a low shot into the far bottom corner from 25 yards.

Rovers weren’t out of sight yet though, and Mansfield pulled one back just moments later as Cooke got up highest in the area to nod home Otis Khan’s lobbed cross.

With 15 minutes of the encounter left, the Stags levelled things up, Cook drilling an effort under the glove of Lewis Thomas from the edge of the area.

Frear could have been the hero on his Rovers return as the ball dropped kindly for him in the area, but his effort skewed wide of the mark.

Spurred on by six minutes of added time, Rovers launched a late offensive push, but they couldn’t carve out the golden chance to claim back all three points.

Forest Green XI: Thomas, Shephard, Bernard (Mondal 83’), Rawson, Winchester, Stevens, Collins (Frear 70’), Adams (Morton 90’), Kitching, Mills (c), Aitchison

Unused subs: Wollacott, Allen, Godwin-Malife, Taylor

Mansfield XI: Logan, Benning, Preston, Pearce, Bishop, Khan, Maynard (Knowles 90+3’), Shaughnessy, Tomlinson (Cooke 46’), Gordon, Hamilton (Afolayan 58’)

Unused subs: Olejnik, Clarke, Sterling-James, Smith

Referee: Ollie Yates

Man of the match: Carl Winchester

Attendance: 2,276 (309 away)

Match sponsor: First Base

Ball sponsor: EESI Group Services

Next time out: Morecambe, The Globe Arena, Tuesday, October 22