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Match Reports

Development Squad Defeated by Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers 3 - 1 Bristol Rovers

4 April 2018

The Development Squad were unable to do the Central League double over Forest Green Rovers U23s, losing out 3-1 to their first team-supplemented opponents in Wednesday's Central League fixture.

The first half was largely even besides Forest Green perhaps seeing more of the ball, and Rovers probably felt hard done by to go into the break level after conceding a penalty that was dispatched by Scott Laird.

Laird doubled the lead for Forest Green minutes after the break, as he glanced home a header, but when Connor Jones slotted home inside the final ten minutes, it looked as though the comeback was on, but the hopes of rescuing a point were dashed when Sam Hendy headed home for the hosts in stoppage time.

The hosts had an even mixture of first team players and U23 regulars and as such, had the lion share of possession inside the first 10 minutes against a Development Squad side that had no senior members.

Chris Hargreaves was also missing key figures in Luke Russe and Cameron Hargreaves; the pair having travelled with Darrell Clarke's squad to Fleetwood on Monday.

Alfie Kilgour and Alexis Andre were also serving suspensions and they to were unavailable for selection.

Despite Forest Green beginning in the ascendency with regards to possession, Rovers did threaten to break on a couple of occasions, one such moment involved Kris Owens marauding down the left flank and digging out a decent cross that was cleared out for a corner, which was subsequently headed wide by Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis.

Lucas Tomlinson was looking a bright spark for Hargreaves' men and showed a nice flash of skill on 12 minutes ghosting in off the right flank and testing out the keeper at his near post.

Rovers came closest just past the 20th minute mark, as Connor Jones did well to win a second ball and set Rhys Kavanagh away; the striker drove at the defence before unleashing a powerful strike goalwards that clipped the right hand post.

Tomlinson continued to be at the forefront of most attacks and did well to relieve pressure on the defence with a purposeful run down the right, beating two men before being fouled, allowing Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist to almost find an unmarked Kavanagh in the box with a dead-ball delivery.

As the game hit the half hour mark, Forest Green had what they thought was their best chance of the game when Scott Laird headed back across goal and demanded an outstanding save from Liam Armstrong, but it wouldn't have counted as the linesman raised his flag for offside.

The first defining moment of the game came just minutes later, when Ollie Mehew was brought down in the area amongst a tangle of blue-socked legs and earned his team a penalty, with Laird stepping up from 12 yards to fire past Armstrong.

Rovers were keen to pull themselves before the break and had a good opportunity to do so when Kavanagh latched onto a cute pass down the right side of the box from today's trialist, and forced a strong reaction stop from the keeper.

The second half began in a similar manner to the first with the hosts controlling most of the possession and five minutes in forcing a fine stop out of Armstrong as the teenager parried a ferocious shot from the edge of the box over the bar.

Unfortunately, however, the resulting corner found an unmarked Laird at the back post, who nodded home to double his and his side's tally.

Rovers didn't let that wane their pursuit of a goal for themselves and five minutes later had a decent chance for one, with Kavanagh checking back in the box to control a cross before half-volleying goalwards, but his effort was matched by the keeper.

An even better chance went begging two minutes from the hour mark, with Ten-Grotenhuis finding himself alone at the near post from a corner inside the six-yard box, but the midfielder couldn't connect with the ball and the danger was cleared.

Kavanagh kept plugging away to try and get himself on the scoresheet, twice flashing low drives just narrowly past the post.

As the game entered the final half an hour, it was more or less all Rovers who still somehow had not found the net; Cameron Ebbutt got in well down the left and squared the ball for Kavanagh 10 yards out but his shot was blocked by a defender superbly.

Frustration continued for The Gas as Kavanagh carried the ball down the right flank and worked a good cross at the front post for Ebbutt who would have surely scored if not for a goal-saving challenge from Nathan Trueman.

Hargreaves' men eventually have the ball in the back of the net, when Ebbutt swivelled in the area to fire past the keeper, only to see the linesman had flagged him offside.

The barrage from the visitors continued and just seconds after Jones had just seen his shot from the edge of the area beaten away, he got himself back into the box to fire home Trialist's low cross and pull his team back into the game with 13 minutes left on the clock.

The final five minutes approached and Rovers were still striving for a second goal, with Tomlinson going close as he saw his deflected strike from the edge of the box goes just wide of the post.

Forest Green sought to take the sting out of the game, however were able to put the result in no doubt in the third minute of stoppage time, with Sam Hendy heading home.

Rovers XI: Liam Armstrong (GK), Trialist, Josh Bailey, Michael Kelly (c), Kris Owens, Connor Jones, Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis (Tom Mehew, 68), Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist, Lucas Tomlinson, Rhys Kavanagh, Cameron Ebbutt.

Unused subs: Steve Mildenhall (GK), James Spruce, Jordan Williams, Trialist.

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