Rovers fall to early Doidge penalty

July 22, 2018

Christian Doidge netted the only goal of the game, converting from the spot just seven minutes in after being brought down by Adam Smith.

Rovers struggled to fashion many clear cut chances to level the scoring, the best falling to Tom Nichols just before the break as he almost capitalised on a keeper slip, but he missed the target from about 20 yards.

Darrell Clarke made eight changes to the side that drew at Yeovil Town last week, with Smith, James Clarke, Tom Broadbent, Ollie Clarke, Luke Russe, Mo Baghdadi, Alex Rodman and Bernard Mensah all coming into the starting XI.

Rovers didn’t get off to the best of starts and found themselves a goal down after seven minutes, with Doidge converting from the penalty spot after he had been brought down in the area by an outstretched Smith as the forward was played through on goal.

The visitors were struggling to get a foothold in the game were yet to create anything significant within the first 15 minutes, doing the larger share of defending out of the two sides.

The first time Rovers bore down on Forest Green’s defence with any real intent wasn’t until around the half-hour mark, with O.Clarke surging past two men with a great run and breaking through the midfield before laying to ball to Rodman on the left, the new man cut inside on his right and shot but it was blocked.

This moment was amidst Rovers most prominent spell, which also encapsulated a great run down the right flank by Leadbitter matched with a cross to the front post for Mensah, but the forward could only stab the ball wide.

The biggest chance of the half fell to Nichols a few minutes from the interval when Mensah capitalised on a slip from the keeper and set Nichols for a free strike from outside the area, but his effort rolled wide.

Clarke made one change at the interval, bringing on Theo Widdrington for Nichols.

Straight out from the break and the hosts thought they had doubled their lead, with Doidge heading home a free-kick only to be thwarted by the linesman.

With an hour played, Baghdadi and Leadbitter combined well down the right to free the latter, enabling him to earn a nicely placed free-kick for his one-two partner to deliver.

The cross was inviting and Mensah was inches away from getting his head to it and potentially glancing it goalwards, but instead, the keeper was able to punch clear.

Rovers made their second change on 63 minutes, with a second Development Squad player in Theo Widdrington coming on in place of Leadbitter.

Despite still being behind, Rover struggled to create further chances to find a goal, with Rodman seeing a couple of long-range shots drift wide, whilst O.Clarke hooked a promising ball towards Mensah in the final minutes but a defender was on hand to clear and secure the win for the hosts.

Rovers XI: Adam Smith (GK), Daniel Leadbitter (Cameron Hargreaves, 63), James Clarke, Tom Broadbent, Michael Kelly, Ollie Clarke, Luke Russe, Mo Baghdadi, Alex Rodman, Bernard Mensah, Tom Nichols (Theo Widdrington, 45).

Unused Subs: Sam Slocombe (GK), Tom Lockyer, Ed Upson, Liam Sercombe, Kyle Bennett, Sam Matthews.

Attendance: 1,235 (470 away).

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