Noah Dougherty
Saturday 19 September 2020

In a dramatic return to The New Lawn, Forest Green Rovers and nine-man Bradford City played out a 2-2 draw in front of a first test crowd.

Bradford took the lead twice through Lee Novak and Elliott Watt, but Aaron Collins' late, late goal added to a Carl Winchester free-kick to earn a draw.

Mark Cooper made one forced change to the side that won at Bolton Wanderers last time out, Dom Bernard coming in at wing-back in place of the injured Kane Wilson.

Midfielder Dan Sweeney was heavily involved in the early minutes, first throwing himself at a Carl Winchester free-kick before, after nine minutes,

In a quiet first half, forward Jamille Matt had the best chance for the hosts, as a corner made its all the way through to the back post but couldn’t direct the ball home on the stretch.

With 37 minutes on the clock, a powerful Aaron Collins run almost saw the Bradford defence part like the red sea, but a last-ditch tackle brought him crashing to the ground inside the area.

Despite Rovers holding the upper hand in the first half, it was Stuart McCall’s men who found themselves in front early on in the second half.

A stinging effort from outside the area was too much for Luke McGee to handle, and Novak nipped in to take it round the keeper and finish into an empty net.

Rovers began to turn up the heat, and Ebou Adams had two half chances in quick succession, first volleying over the bar from the edge of the area before turning Nicky Cadden’s wide of the near post.

It wasn’t long before Rovers were back on terms though, and who else but Winchester, the captain driving a free-kick home under the wall.

Just two minutes later and the Northern Irishman had a golden opportunity to double his tally for the afternoon as Adams was brought down in the box, and Anthony O’Connor was given his marching orders.

Winchester stepped up to the ball, but drilled wide of the bottom right corner from 12 yards.

The spurned opportunity was one that came back to bite Rovers just five minutes later, as, with 67 minutes on the clock, Watt’s wide free-kick cleared everyone in the middle and nestled in the far corner.

The Bantams were reduced even further after 71 minutes, as an off-the-ball incident saw Paudie O’Connor send Adams over the advertising boards and into the North Stand, the referee consequently sending him for an early bath.

Substitute Matty Stevens could well have nodded in an equaliser with four minutes of normal time to play, but couldn’t keep the chance on target.

As Rovers ramped the pressure up, Cadden going close with a drilled effort towards the back post, but it flashed wide.

With time running out, it seemed Bradford would be taking the points, but you can never rule Rovers out.

With seven minutes of added time played, a dinked cross back into the area found Collins whose side-footed volley nestled in the top corner.

Match Sponsor: Energy&Legal

Matchball Sponsor: First Choice Utilities

Referee: Will Finnie

Forest Green XI: McGee, Bernard (Wagstaff 71’), Sweeney (Stevens 73’), Kitching (Young 86’), Winchester (c), Adams, Collins, Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor, Godwin-Malife

Unused subs: Thomas, Stokes, Allen, McCoulsky

Bradford XI: O’Donnell, P. O’Connor, A. O’Connor, Novak, Ismail (Mottley-Henry 66’), French, Clarke (Cooke 69’), Watt, Staunton (Dawson 90'), Wood, Guthrie

Unused subs: Hornby, Longridge, Pritchard, Donaldson

Man of the Match: Ebou Adams