August 25, 2014
(FGR players celebrate Jon Parkin’s deflected goal)
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1 BRISTOL ROVERS 1
A unique occasion produced a typical derby of blood and thunder as Forest Green maintained their unbeaten start to the Vanarama Conference season.
Watched by a record league crowd of 3,781, Ady Pennock’s men fell behind to Andy Monkhouse’s second-half header but salvaged a point thanks to Jon Parkin.
Unchanged for a fifth game running but off-colour for much of the afternoon, Forest Green had a scare inside the opening minute when Lee Mansell’s curling free-kick had to be acrobatically tipped wide by Sam Russell.
There was precious little quality to compliment the hussle and bussle early on, Bristol Rovers the next to threaten again when Mansell met Lee Brown’s deep cross with a header that landed on the roof of Russell’s net.
Brown scuffed wide from long range after pouncing on a weak clearance by Luke Oliver, who just failed to get enough contact on Rob Sinclair’s free-kick in the opposite area four minutes later.
Pennock’s side enjoyed a decent spell of possession as the first half drew to a close, and Clovis Kamdjo had visiting goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall scrambling with a deflected effort that ballooned wide.
But the visitors looked to be carrying marginally more of a goal threat, and Forest Green old boy Matty Taylor saw a goal-bound strike blocked by Oliver.
Moments later Taylor put the ball in the net in front of the fans who used to cheer him, only to be flagged for offside.
Sinclair headed into the side-netting on the cusp of the interval, but Pennock would have been happier than opposite number Darrell Clarke with an even scoreline and a 15-minute window in which to rally his troops.
There was no obvious change of tack upon the resumption, and the deadlock was finally broken by the away side on 55 minutes when Brown’s cross was headed into the turf by Monkhouse and looped beyond Russell’s outstretched arm into the net.
Pennock responded with a double midfield substitution, James Norwood and Marcus Kelly replacing Sinclair and Frear on the flanks in the hope of asserting some control.
But Russell was called into action again to field Taylor’s 20-yard drive before keeping Forest Green in the contest with a brilliant reaction stop, denying his former team-mate from point-blank range after the diminutive striker had soared to meet Monkhouse’s delivery from the right.
Three minutes later it was all-square, a bout of pinball in the Bristol Rovers area ending with a deflected Kelly shot that was turned home by the grateful Parkin.
Forest Green now looked likelier winners, and two booming diagonal passes by Norwood and Hughes put Parkin in the clear for a shot that missed the target by millimetres.
Mildenhall had to be at full stretch to keep out Kelly’s free-kick, while Brown was narrowly off-target from a similar range at the death to ensure there were no West Country bragging rights come the final whistle.
Forest Green: S. Russell; D. Pipe, L. Oliver, D. Coles, C. Stokes; R. Sinclair (J. Norwood 59), C. Kamdjo, S. Wedgbury, E. Frear (M. Kelly 59); J. Parkin, L. Hughes (L. Rodgers 81); Subs not used: E. Oshodi, S. Arnold.
Bristol Rovers: S. Mildenhall; T. Lockyer, N. Trotman, T. Parkes, L. Brown; A. Monkhouse, O. Clarke, L. Mansell, D. Martin (S. Sinclair 78); A. Cunnington (E. Harrison 49), M. Taylor (J. White 84); Subs not used: J. Gosling, W. Puddy.
Referee: S. Rushton (Staffs)
(Adapted from the Gloucester Citizen)