Lambs are STAYING UP!!!!
30 April 2011
And so it came to the final match. With the Premier Sports TV camera's recording every kick on the pitch and shout from the terraces, Dale Belford's Lambs took to the field needing a win to secure their place in the Premier division in 2011-12.
Danny Thomas was ruled out with injury - missing his first match of the season - and with Aaron Mitchell suspended Belford was forced to make two changes to the side from Bank Holiday Monday's defeat at Wrexham with Seb Lake-Gaskin and Christian Smith returning to the starting eleven.
Belford also picked Louis Connor in goal ahead of himself while Jay Smith and the caretaker manager made up the bench.
And so with the pre-match introductions made both on the field and on screen, the Lambs emerged into the sunshine to ticker-tape and balloons.
The Lambs kicked off towards the Castle End and immediately put the pressure on with Lake-Gaskin looking for Jason Bradley from the left and when the ball came in from the left inside the third minute Christian Smith prodded home from less than 6 yards out (1-0, 3 mins)
Rovers pushed on from the restart and won a freekick on the left which Daniel Bradley booted clear and the defence worked strongly if the ball came their way.
Sheridan fed Perry down the left wing and he won a corner on 8 but it was too long for Perry at the far post.
And on 10 Barrow unleashed a powerful drive from the left channel forcing Bittner to parry the ball before it rebounded behind off a Tamworth player following up at the right post.
Christian Smith hit a hopeful long range shot from 40 yards high over the bar on 12 and Perry was brought down on 13 setting up Wilkinson with a freekick from goal on 13 which floated into Bittner's hands.
Forbes made a mazy run onto the edge of the Lambs box on 18 but lashed his shot well wide of the mark and Barrow made a timely intervention to keep the ball from bouncing precariously into the box shortly after.
The Lambs squandered a golden chance of a second when Perry nodded down into the path of Wilkinson's run on 20 but he lifted his shot over the bar while Eastbourne struck a second against Altrincham at Moss Lane.
Styche turned and hit a half volley off target from Marshall's defensive header on 22 and Allen was booked for a foul on Perry on 24.
News filtered through that Southport had gone a goal down to Kettering as Connor collected a high bvouncing ball at the second attempt under pressure.
Dan Bradley headed the ball away from the goal mouth when Forbes sent in a searching deep ball and from the corner Courtney headed over the bar to concede another flag kick on the left with Jason Bradley booted away.
A kick from Connor made it into Bittner's box on 32 with Perry just unable to get a good enough touch to direct it at goal and Connor collected a low cross to halt Rover's progress up field.
A spell of good play down the right involving Lake-Gaskin and Wilkinson ended on 37 when the latter's ball was collected by Bittner.
A long thrown from by the Shed from Barrow bounced in the area and was deflected over the bar from a Lambs corner by the clubhouse on 39 and Marshall headed into Bittner's hands at the far post.
A chip from McDonald from the edge of the area after some good footwork saw the ball just clear the bar on 40.
Daniel Bradley forced a corner on 41 and Barrow almost found Perry at the far post but the covering defender flicked it away with his head.
Rovers countered and the ball eventually made its way back to Connor when Styche's ball back into the box was not strong enough to cause too much of a problem.
Styche put a heavy challenge in on Barrow inside the Tamworth half as two minutes added time was shown and The Lambs won a corner from the freekick.
Barrow put the ball into the danger area but it was headed away from danger again and the same player launched a long throw into the box and The Lambs caused some problems before Lake-Gaskin won a corner on the right again.
Barrow trotted to the flag and Bittner punched it away as the half time whistle blew.
Forest Green restarted the longest 45 minutes of the season...
Manager David Hockaday made a change at the break, replacing normally spritely forward Styche and on 49 Caines missed the target with a header directed into his path on the right of the box fell kindly.
Nerves were obvious for both sides as passes went astray in the middle of the park, and a foul by Jason Bradley on Frobes on 52 allowed the same player to strike the freekick into the area which was nodded back into the box and Somner headed home at the far post despite the best efforts of Connor (1-1, 52 mins)
This put The Lambs in 20th a point ahead of Southport, still one down at Kettering, but with a slightly inferior goal difference.
A searching cross looking for Perry was headed behind for a Tamworth corner on 56 and the visitors defended strongly to clear the danger.
Jones pushed Lake-Gaskin off the ball for a freekick on the left on 57 and after an initial header Perry hooked the ball back across the face of the goal but agonisingly out past the right hand post.
Jones cleared the ball over his own bar with a lunging dive to prevent Perry getting on the end of a Lake-Gaskin drive on the hour and Rovers cleared the corner and raced to the other end with Allen driving across the box for Connor to bat away.
Lake-Gaskin's legs went from under him and Rovers sportingly put the ball out to allow Farrell to take his place on 63.
Matthew's put a bullet header at Connor on 65 and the Lambs keeper was equal to it.
Jason Bradley was called just offside as Southport equalised against Kettering to put Tamworth back into the bottom four.
And tensions were starting to spill from the terraces when passes went awry and a foul in the middle of the park gave Rovers a freekick on 72 which saw all but Farrell on the edge of the area defending but Jones flashed a header wide of the mark.
Into the final fifteen minutes and Perry was tripped on the half way line but the freekick was gathered by Bittner.
Then Sheridan hit what looked to be a high cross come shot into the box from 35 yards and it somehow dropped into the top corner to give Tamworth the lead again, but there was a worry for Bittner who struck the post trying to claw the ball from safety. He was OK to continue as the Lambs fans celebrated. (2-1, 76 mins)
Marshall and Wilkinson headed a booted a freekick away on 80 and after a couple of substitutions, one for each side, the game entered the final five minutes.
A freekick for a foul again Allen on the edge of the area gave Forest Green's Caines struck the deadball sweetly but a yard or so wide of the mark.
Four minutes added time was shown at the end of the game, and news came through that Kettering had retaken the lead to give Forest Green hope of survival on goal difference.
As the game entered the fifth minute of time Forest Green launched the ball forward but the whistle blew to keep the Lambs up.
Connor, Marshall, Courtney, Perry, Lake-Gaskin (Farrell 63), Sheridan, Bradley J (MacKenzie 84), Bradley D, Smith C, Barrow, Wilkinson
Subs: Smith J, Christie, Belford
Forest Green Rovers Team:
Bittner, Hodgkiss, Jones, Armstrong (Guinan 82), Styche (Matthews 45), Dyer, McDonald, Forbes, Allen, Caines
Subs: Gray, Turk, Enver-Marum
Referee: Mr. S. J. Martin