REPORT: Forest Green Rovers v Wanderers

Wanderers completed a tough few days on the road with another single-goal defeat as their second-half onslaught came up short.

The Whites drew a blank for the second game running to suffer a third away loss of the season.

Former top-flight striker Connor Wickham’s 32nd-minute goal was enough for Forest Green to end their losing run and record a third win of the campaign.

And Wanderers’ ultimately paid the price for a sluggish first 45 minutes which gave the Greens the chance to grab a lead and then have something to cling onto throughout a one-sided second half.

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Ian Evatt’s men spent almost all of it in the Rovers’ half and – unlike at Cheltenham in mid-week – had enough chances to get back into the contest and earn at least a point.

But their goalscoring touch has just deserted them and the Greens somehow held on in their bid to climb out of the bottom four as Wanderers missed another opportunity to firm up their place in the top six.

Wanderers made four changes to the side that had lost at Cheltenham on Tuesday night as they returned to Gloucestershire to try and make amends.

Connor Bradley and Kieran Lee were both back after missing the defeat at Whaddon Road, while Elias Kachunga returned in a striking spot and Declan John made his first league appearance since August.

But there was no immediate uplift bar a couple of flashes of danger in around the Rovers’ penalty area from Dion Charles.

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Forest Green had the only real chance of the opening half-hour with James Trafford forced to save well with his legs to deny Armani Little after he had got in behind the Wanderers’ defence.

But Trafford was powerless to stop Forest Green going ahead when they worked the ball well for Corey O’Keeffe to cross low for top scorer Connor Wickham to tuck away his fifth goal of the season.

There was a further change for the Whites at the start of the second half after George Johnston – who suffered a bloody nose in an early collision with Rovers’ keeper Luke McGee – made way for Jack Iredale to see his record of playing every minute of every game so far this season come to an end.

With Iredale adding to the ability to break forward from the back, Wanderers immediately tried to raise the tempo as George Thomason and Gethin Jones both saw efforts blocked before Iredale delivered an excellent cross Charles couldn’t head goalwards from a decent postition.

Charles then had a better chance from John’s fine through-ball but McGee stood firm to make a decent block as Wanderers camped in the hosts’ half in search of an equaliser.

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And with half an hour to go Evatt sent for more firepower from the bench in the shape of Dapo Afolayan before throwing on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Kieran Sadlier to try and turn possession into a goal.

Wanderers forced a succession of corners and peppered the Forest Green penalty area but invariably every shot hit a green shirt and when Charles did manage to get away and get a clear sight of goal, McKee got just enough on his attempted finish to divert the ball wide with six minutes to go.

Bodvarsson then flashed a header just wide from another John delivery before the excellent Lee picked out Sadlier for a side-foot volley he sent over the top from 10 yards out as it looked like a leveller would finally come.

Rovers again survived that scare, though, and with Wanderers unable to find their way through in five minutes of stoppage time they were left to face another frustrating journey home from the west country.  

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Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Almeida Santos, Johnston (Iredale HT); Bradley (Sadlier 77), Williams, Thomason (Afolayan 62), John; Lee; Charles, Kachunga (Bodvarsson 69). Substitutes: Morley, Sheehan, Aimson.

Booked:

Forest Green Rovers: McGee; Marques, Moore-Taylor, Cargill; O’Keeffe, Brown, Stevenson, Hendry (March 73), McAllister; Wickham (Peart-Harris 78), Little. Substitutes: Thomas, Bernard, Casey, Boyes, Bunker.

Booked: McAllister, Marques, Hendry, Cargill

Referee:

Attendance: 3,419 (1,119 Wanderers)

Read Time: 4 mins