Rovers take the win
06 December 2011
Following the elation of the weekend's win at Gateshead and the subsequent FA draw, pitting The Lambs against Premiership Everton it was back to the bread and butter league action with a trip to the New Lawn to face Forest Green Rovers.
Lambs boss Marcus Law, speaking on the Non League Show on Monday evening, was quick to point out that every player is now playing for their place and no positions are guaranteed. He expects the team to continue playing with a view to getting valuable league points on the board.
As Toffees boss David Moyes watched from the main stand, Law made three changes to the side that ran out at the International Stadium with McDonald, Barrow and Shariff coming in at the expense of Courtney, Mills and Thomas who took a place on the bench alongside Christie, returning from suspension and Farah.
Meanwhile, David Hockaday, still without the injured Reece Styche up front was looking to the home side to extend their unbeaten run to eight league games while The Lambs will be out to avenge the 1-0 reversal suffered in September when Green's own goal handed Rovers all three points after just three minutes of the match at The Lamb.
A moving tribute to Len Gendle over the tannoy prior to kick off was whole heartedly appreciated by the travelling faithful huddled in the seating stand behind the goal, and the home side got the game underway firing in an early shot which went wide of the mark.
The Lambs then won a corner on the right but keeper Bittner took it at height and Hedge was forced to gather a left sided cross by Stokes and a minute or so later Francis ran in to deny a quick break forward by the home side.
A cross from Stokes was glanced into the air by Taylor and wide allowing Hedge to collect on 4 while a promising move forward by The Lambs ended on 8 when Shariff's flick went the wrong side of Patterson on the edge of the area and Bittner was able to collect easily.
A deep cross from the right by Tait was booted clear from the centre of the box on 10 and The Lambs kept the pressure up but weren't able to make it count as Dale Belford shouted advice from the technical area.
Barrow's cross from the left was inches away from the head of St. Aimie on 12 following a good break down the wing but on 15, WM guest commentator (Lambs own) Nigel Vaughan did a ‘Murray Walker' as Thomson gave his side the lead courtesy of a left sided freekick which took a slight deflection on the way through and sneaked past Hedge inside his right hand post. (0-1, 15 mins)
Tamworth tried to come back quickly, but Barrow's final ball was blocked and Bittner collected at height.
The Lambs were level on 29 after McDonald tried his luck after a good ball juggle on the edge of the area, but his shot was blocked and Barrow followed up, but that was blocked too. It fell to Shariff though and he made no mistake from 12 yards with a right footed finish (1-1, 19 mins)
St. Aimie tried a header from Barrow's left wing ball on 22 but could only lift it high over the bar and the latter tried a chip from the edge of the box a minute later but found Bittner well placed.
It perhaps should have been 2-1 to the home side on 27 following a deep left sided cross from Stokes but Henderson's header was powered back across the box and just past the near post with Hedge well and truly left flat footed and potentially beaten.
At the other end neither Tait, Green nor Patterson could get a cross in from a right sided throw, but the latter did win a corner which McDonald planted on to head of Green but he couldn't quite get enough purchase on it to divert it goalward and it went out past the far post.
Just past the half hour mark Tamworth kept up with the forward play but were unable to get anything from it as twice Barrow was penalised, as was Kanyuka - with a yellow card for blantantly deliberate handball as Rovers tried to put the ball into the danger area from the right. The freekick however was wasted and Hedge took the catch comfortably.
Kanyuka was forced to head the ball behind for a corner on 38 and after initially clearing the dead ball Rovers refused to give in and when Stokes spotted a minute opening he struck right footed from 18 yards in the left channel into the bottom right hand corner to give Forest Green the lead again.
Immediately after the restart a long ball forward by the visitors caught Hedge in a mix up on the edge of his area and as Taylor tried to turn and get the ball and fire goalward Hedge, by this time prostrate on the floor, swept it away with a trailing leg but received a knock in the process. Tamworth were awarded the freekick and while the home fans were calling for handball outside the area there were no real protests by the home team and play continued.
Two minutes added time were shown at the end of the first half and Patterson won a corner when his low cross was cleared behind at the near post. McDonald's flag kick was punched away but only as far as Barrow, however when the ball came back in at the far post McDonald, in space, was unable to keep his shot down and the whistle blew on half time.
The Lambs got the seconds half underway kicking towards the 42 travelling supporters and immediately won a freekick on the half way line but it was cleared as soon as it ventured near the Rovers box and the home side switched play to the other end with Stoke a particular threat.
Then on 50 Thomson made a fine run leaving Barrow in his tracks as he advanced towards the byline but Hedge was quickest to the cross.
Goalkeeper Bittner appeared to hug St. Aimie and then fall to the floor for no apparent reason but did require treatment and play restarted with a drop ball.
Hedge was almost given a ‘hospital' ball by Francis with Thomson charging in on 56 before St. Aimie hit a low shot at Bittner and the keeper dropped and saved with ease.
Just short of the hour, Tamworth made two changes introducing fresh legs to the left and right wings with Thomas and Mills respectively.
A challenge on Patterson in the box was waved away by the referee shortly afterwards and Law was in full voice urging his side to keep going forwards rather than take the safer option back to Hedge.
With the cold now biting at the fingertips in the pressbox and the temperature dropping like a stone on the pitch Rovers burst forwards on two or three occasions but were unable to make the final ball count.
A foul on the right wing set up Tamworth with a freekick on 69 and St. Aimie nodded it into the box but was unable to find a teammate shortly before another change was made.
Then with 18 to go a penalty was awarded to the home side when Taylor was adjudged to have clipped Taylor as they both went for the ball in the right of the area and the linesman's flag helped the referee make his decision. Klukowski fired home to Hedge's left to extend Rovers lead. (3-1, 72 mins)
Mills had a good chance to pull the score back in The Lambs favour on 75 but the ball into the box from the right by Green was flicked up and over the cross bar from 8 yards out.
St. Aimie was booked on 76 and Taylor required treatment for the home side, although the two incidents were not directly linked. The dangerous home attacker flashed a header into the box on 82 and with the minutes ticking down The Lambs were in need of a quick goal to get themselves back into the match.
Tait, unable to stop his run, comically disappeared over the terrace barrier only to reappear a few seconds later and sprint unharmed to take a throw 50 yards away such was the urgency now in the side although they were finding it hard to make headway.
Even when the chance did come, as it did on 86 when Mills lifted the ball high towards the edge of the area, the referee spotted a foul by the chasing Patterson and play was halted.
A number of decisions by the linesman running with the home forwards which prevented Rovers in continuing their attack were questioned by the home faithful while at the other end, chances were now at a premium and the four minutes added time proved not to be enough for The Lambs to get anything from the tie.
Hedge, Tait, Habergham, Francis, St. Aimie, McDonald (Farah 70), Patterson, Green, Barrow (Thomas 58), Shariff (Mills 59), Kanyuka
Subs: Courtney, Christie
Yellow Cards: Kanyuka 34, St. Aimie 76
Forest Green Rovers Team:
Bittner, Hodgkiss, Stokes, Turley, Klukowski, Forbes, Taylor, Thomson, Oshodi, Uwezu (Rowe 81), Henderson (Griffin 90)
Subs: Imudia, Graham, Locke
Referee: Mr. M. Bull (Essex FA)