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Match Reports

Development Squad Report: Rovers 3-2 Forest Green Rovers U23s

15 January 2019

Match Reports

Development Squad Report: Rovers 3-2 Forest Green Rovers U23s

15 January 2019

Kyle Bennett got on the scoresheet as the Development Squad came out winners in an entertaining Central League encounter with Forest Green Rovers U23at Yate Town on Tuesday afternoon.

Young prospect Lucas Tomlinson opened the scoring with a simple finish after great work by Tom Nichols, but Rovers were pegged back by Rueben Reid.

A trialist restored the hosts' lead shortly before the break with an excellent volley that was followed up after the break with a close-range finish from Bennett.

Forest Green did pull one back on the hour back to set up an intense finish but Rovers held on well to claim all three points.

The starting XI included three first team players, in Adam Smith, Bennett and Nichols.

The game opened with intensity with both sides eager to get at it after a long period with no competitive football and Nichols set his sights as early as two minutes in as he tried a low dipping strike from outside the box that bounced just wide of the target.

Bennett seemed to be given licence to roam across the midfield and was popping up in different areas, he combined well down the left with Nichols before trying his luck from distance but it was a yard or so the wrong side of the post.

Shortly after however on the 11th minute and Rovers made the breakthrough, with Nichols hugely influential.

The striker raced away down the left and beat two defenders with a drop of his shoulder before surging into the box and laying it on a plate for Lucas Tomlinson who capped the move off with a simple finish.

Nichols and Bennett continued to pull strings as the latter came off the right flank with a good first touch followed by a cute pass into the former, the forward looked to bend it low into the far corner but his effort went wide.

However on 27 minutes, Forest Green pulled level with a really well-worked goal - Isaac Pearce took the ball on the turn on the edge of the box superbly, before setting Rueben Reid to his right who faked to shoot on his right and shifted it onto his left, leaving Smith with no chance as he curled the ball into the top left corner.

The hosts looked to regain their lead almost immediately when Bennett fizzed a useful pass into Cameron Hargreaves on the edge of the box, the midfielder set himself with a good touch before driving at goal but a slight deflection took it just off target - it may well have been goalbound if not for the interference. 

At the other end, Forest Green could have easily pulled in front themselves, with Shawn McCoulsky finding himself free in the area at a cross but his volley was poor and bounced into the grateful arms of Smith.

This fairly frantic window was finally blessed with a goal and it sure wasn't half bad.

Nichols was again the provider as he clipped in a great ball of the right into the box for Trialist, he still had a lot to do but met the ball excellently on the volley, so well it became lodged in the top corner stanchion, otherwise known as 'top bins' - five minutes left until the break.

Trialist did well again a few minutes later as he controlled a bouncing ball on the left and found Nichols with a clever pass, he looked for the return but instead it went out to Tomlinson who fired a testing ball across goal that was nervously sliced over the bar.

Forest Green had an early chance after the break from a corner as Paul Digby rose well to head towards the corner but Smith dove well to his left to hold the effort.

Just over five minutes into to second half and Rovers lead was extended as Bennett pounced a defensive error in the box by Digby to lash home past the keeper from six yards out.

The game felt like it still had more goals in it and this was precisely the case, as the visitors pulled one back to make for an interesting final 30 minutes.

The powerful McCoulsky drove through a series of challenges on the edge before sliding in Isiah Jones down the right, his shot ricocheted before being stabbed at again by Charlie Cooper until it eventually fell to Junior Mondal inside the six yard box, who helped himself to an easy finish. 

Nichols performanced deserved a goal and he kept plugging away in search of him, forcing a smart stop from Lewis Thomas with a powerful low drive on the edge of the area.

On 66 minutes Rovers switched up their central midfield, replacing Luke Russe and Hargreaves with Connor Jones and Tom Mehew.

Seconds after, Forest Green almost found an equaliser when Smith failed to hold McCoulsky's strike - Mondal followed in with purpose but Isherwood did really well to sweep clear.

A further double Rovers switch came just past the 70-minute mark, as Under-18s leading scorer Harry Warwick and Rhys Kavanagh were introduced at the expense of goalscorers Tomlinson and Trialist.

Kavanagh was involved almost immediately after entering the fray as he rifled a good strike at goal, the keeper couldn't hold the strike but did just enough to recover and cancel out Nichols' follow up.

As we entered the final 10 minutes the game it was still in the balance and the visitors were still keen for an equaliser - another well-worked move saw McCoulsky lay off Jones down the right who had a great chance but he fired wide.

A minute later they did have the ball in the back of the net, as Mondal tapped in a low cross from the right, but he was judged to be offside.

Rovers were really facing some pressure in the closing moments but Rollin Menayese, Ben Morgan and co were defending resolutely thus far.

With little time left on the clock, Rovers made arguably the most bizarre sub of the season, as an injury to Warwick meant the only remaining substitute, goalkeeper Alexis Andre-Jr came on to join Nichols up front to help see out the win.

Rovers XI: Adam Smith (GK), Scott Isherwood, Rollin Menayese, Ben Morgan, Alfie Clarke, Luke Russe (Connor Jones 66'), Cameron Hargreaves (Tom Mehew, 66'), Kyle Bennett, Lucas Tomlinson (Harry Warwick, 71') - Alexis Andre-Jr, (90'), Trialist (Rhys Kavanagh, 71'), Tom Nichols.

Unused subs: None.

Forest Green XI: Lewis Thomas (GK), Isiah Jones, Lee Collins, Paul Digby, Scott Laird, Charlie Cooper (Sam Hendy, 75'), Daniel Jones (Lewis Spurrier 45'), Isaac Pearce (Daniel Ogunleye, 84'), Junior Mondal, Reuben Reid, Shawn McCoulsky.

Unused subs: Louis Owens (GK), Ethan Hill.

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