Noah Dougherty
Saturday 12 September 2020

Forest Green Rovers got the season off to a perfect start, as they left Bolton Wanderers with a well-deserved 1-0 victory.

Captain Carl Winchester was the man of the hour, as his second-half strike proved the difference between Rovers and the former-Premier League side.

Mark Cooper made just one change to the side that faced Leyton Orient in the Carabao Cup first round a week ago, Liam Kitching making a return to injury and replacing Chris Stokes on the left of a back three.

The hosts could well have found themselves ahead after just 5 minutes, as Eoin Doyle latched onto an under-hit pass back, but Jordan Moore-Taylor did well to track back and put the Irishman off his finish.

Ebou Adams almost carved out a great chance for Collins with fifteen minutes on the clock, but his cut-back couldn’t quite find the forward on the edge of the box.

Minutes later, the Welshman had another opportunity, this time controlling on his chest but dragging the effort wide of the mark through a crowd of bodies.

Rovers had Luke McGee to thank for keeping the game level after 35 minutes, the keeper saving well with his feet after Anthony Sarcevic drilled a loose ball at the near post.

Both Collins and Adams had chances to open the scoring before the break, the former volleying over after Jamille Matt’s knockdown in the box before Collins flashed an effort wide from range late on.

There was no let-up in intensity as Mark Cooper’s men came out of the away tunnel for the second half, Adams once again causing trouble in the Bolton area as he threw himself at Kane Wilson’s tantalising cross, flicking a volley inches wide.

Still knocking on the door, it was the visitors who made the breakthrough after 50 minutes.

Nicky Cadden’s in-swinging free-kick was half-cleared by a Bolton head, but only as far as Winchester on the edge of the area, the man with the armband striking an inch-perfect drive in off the post.

Matt was gifted a golden opportunity to double his side’s advantage as Adams’ challenge saw the ball land at the strikers’ feet, but he couldn’t get a shot away and was crowded out.

The opening goal was just what was needed to kick Rovers up a gear, and four minutes after going ahead Cadden was denied by an excellent sliding challenge after an electric breakaway down the left.

McGee, who had been un-tested for much of the second half, was called into action again with 16 minutes to play, diving to his left to get a strong hand on Ali Crawford’s curling strike.

With bodies forward, the hosts could have snatched an equaliser at the death as Liam Gordon slid in at the back post, but fired over after a powerful cross.

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge

Bolton XI: Crellin, Jones, Gordon, Santos, Delfouneso, Comley (Crawford 56’), Doyle, Sarcevic (c), White (Tutte 71’), Greenidge (Amoateng 71’), Baptiste

Unused subs: Alexander, Taft, Hickman, Mascoll

Forest Green XI: McGee, Wilson, Sweeney, Kitching, Winchester (c), Adams, Collins (Wagstaff 82’), Cadden, Matt (McCoulsky 86'), Moore-Taylor, Godwin-Malife

Unused subs: Thomas, Bernard, Stokes, Stevens, Allen

Man of the Match: Carl Winchester