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Match Reports

REPORT | Forest Green Rovers 1 Rovers 2

16 September 2023

Match Reports

REPORT | Forest Green Rovers 1 Rovers 2

16 September 2023

Ben Close curled in a stoppage time winner to secure a first league triumph for Rovers in dramatic fashion at Forest Green Rovers.

The midfielder ensured his return from injury was extremely memorable as his deep cross found the top corner in the 96th minute to finally get off the mark in Sky Bet League Two.

It saw Rovers shake off the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser when Forest Green skipper Jordan Moore-Taylor cancelled out Harrison Biggins’ brilliant first half overhead kick.

Rovers’ performance on the day was a multi-faceted one, with real attacking threat in the first period couple with dogged determination and bodies-on-the-line defending.

Typifying that element was the showing of goalkeeper Louis Jones, called into action at 24 hours’ notice following an injury to Ian Lawlor and responding with a stunning performance.

Jones’ addition was one of two changes made by manager Grant McCann, with Tom Nixon returning to the starting XI in place of Jack Senior.

Rovers started the brighter, with the hosts struggling to clear their lines. George Broadbent fired an effort from the edge of the box which deflected wide.

Luke Molyneux fizzed a cross into Joe Ironside with his back to goal, with the striker sending the ball into the side netting with an acrobatic effort.

Nixon, a lively presence at right wing back, drew a fine save from FGR keeper Luke Daniels after cutting inside onto his left foot.

Jones was called into action for the first time after 18 minutes. He denied the lively Kyle McAllister with his legs before batting away a drive from veteran striker Troy Deeney.

It sparked a period of strong pressure from the hosts, during which Deeney smashed a first time effort off the crossbar and fellow forward Matty Stevens sent a backheel off the post.

Jones made a superb block from point blank range from Stevens before the ball was hooked clear off the line in the aftermath.

Rovers had their backs to the wall and Jamie Robson just failed to connect with a low ball driven across goal by McAllister as the half hour mark neared.

But the balance of the game shifted as Rovers took the lead on 35 minutes when Biggins met a superbly weighted cross from Broadbent with stunning overhead kick from ten yards.

McCann’s side were immediately back on the front foot and Molyneux almost netted a spectacular volley from the edge of the box as he met a Broadbent ball.

Joseph Olowu headed straight at Daniels as he met a knockback from Ironside in the final action of the half.

Forest Green came out for the second half with real intent and Deeney sent a diving header wide in the early stages.

Mo Faal fired straight at Daniels from the edge of the box and was also caught out by the offside flag after racing onto a pass from Ironside.

McAllister volleyed wide just past the hour mark while Rovers substitute Louie Marsh drew a save from Daniels. Nixon fired over the bar after cutting inside as Rovers showed threat on the break.

FGR sub Matty Taylor drilled a shot across the face of goal as the hosts began to pile on pressure in search of the equaliser while Tyrese Omotoye saw a shot deflect wide.

Forest Green found the equaliser on 85 minutes when Moore-Taylor rose highest to meet a corner and plant a header into the corner.

Both sides pushed for a winner, with Harvey Bunker firing well over as the game ticked into six minutes of time added.

Molyneux saw a shot saved by Daniels before the incredible finish. Close picked up possession on the left and sent the ball high towards the far post, with the ball sailing into the top corner.

And there was still time for more heroics from Jones as he made a superb reaction save on his line to ensure Rovers returned home with the three points.

Rovers: Jones, Bailey, Olowu, Anderson, Nixon, Westbrooke, Broadbent, Biggins (Close 78), Molyneux, Faal (Marsh 65), Ironside. Subs not used: Bottomley, Faulkner, Sotona, Roberts, Goodman.

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