Jack Aitchison stepped off the bench to net a debut winner, as Forest Green Rovers beat Cambridge United 1-0 at the Abbey Stadium.
Joseph Mills cleared the ball off the line and Lewis Thomas saved a penalty to keep the scores level during the second half, before the substitute Aitchison grabbed the winner just over ten minutes from time.
Mark Cooper made five changes to the side that lost against Newport County last weekend.
With Ebou Adams on international duty, and Joe Wollacott suspended, the manager called upon Lewis Thomas and Kevin Dawson as well as bringing in Liam Kitching, Matty Stevens and Udoka Godwin-Malife.
It was a solid start going forward for the away team. Kitching nodded down a Taylor Allen cross on six minutes but none of the other attackers in the box were able to pounce.
Liam O’Neil had a great chance with 16 minutes played but his dangerous cross-cum-shot from the right evaded everyone in the FGR box.
Another chance was carved out for Cambridge in the 23rd minute. A low cut-back to the edge of the area from Paul Lewis fell again to O’Neil but his effort was well held by Lewis Thomas down to his right-hand-side.
The home team continued to grow into the game as Luke Hannant created a big chance on the left-hand-side. His cross was very accurate, perfectly onto the head of Sam Smith but he was unable to direct his header goal bound.
Dayle Grubb ran onto a loose ball and drove forward with purpose on the half-hour mark but he dragged his attempt wide from 20 yards out.
Lewis had an effort from a similar distance a minute later, but his shot flew just over the bar.
A very well-worked opportunity, which began at the back with Thomas, was crafted for Allen with five minutes to go in the half, but he drove his shot just over from just inside the box.
The second half started in a positive manner for FGR but is was Cambridge who certainly came the closest in the opening five minutes of it. Hannant shifted the ball onto his right foot from his position out on the left-hand-side before hitting a brilliant dipping effort from 25 yards out which came off the underside of the bar. Fortunately, from an FGR point of view, the ball bounced away from the goal rather than into the back of the net.
O’Neil had another long-range shot for the home team but it swerved just wide of the right post.
Rover somehow managed to keep the scores level after some heroics from Joseph Mills. The full-back quite literally put his body on the line as his he headed the ball off the line following a scramble at a corner.
That wasn’t the end of the heroics defensively for the away team. Cambridge were awarded a penalty after a coming together and a bit of deliberation on the part of the officials. Marc Richards stepped up but was denied as Thomas parried away to his left-hand-side to keep the game goalless.
It got even better for Rovers. Jack Aitchinson, who signed on loan from Celtic on Monday, made an immediate impact with just over ten minutes to play by scoring his first goal for the club with only a few touches to his name. The forward was fed the ball inside the box before firing home off the inside of the near post to give FGR the advantage in the match.
Jabo Ibehre came very close to equalising just a couple of minutes later but his header went inches wide of the post.
Scottish attacker Aitchinson almost doubled his and Rovers’ tally with a minute to play. He forged an opportunity for himself but his finish came agonisingly off the post.
Cambridge IX: Mitov, Taft, Taylor (c), Hannant, O’Neil (Maris 58’), Darling, Davies, Richards (Ibehre 77’), Smith (Dallas 77’), Carruthers, Lewis
Unused subs: Burton, Dunk, John, Knibbs
Forest Green XI: Thomas, Rawson, Winchester, Grubb (Aitchison 67’), Stevens, Allen (Morton 46’), Dawson, Kitching, Godwin-Malife, Mills (c), Taylor (Mondal 74’)
Unused subs: Smith, Bernard, McGinley, McCoulsky
Referee: Anthony Blackhouse
Attendance: 3784 (134)
Man of the Match:
Next up: Colchester United Saturday, September 14, The New Lawn