Forest Green Rovers 2 Chester FC 1
Watched By Neil Martin
Forest Green ground out another win at the New Lawn which owed a lot to their new-found tenacity to achieve results. In the process they won their second consecutive game to start the season. At times it wasn’t that pretty but Rovers will be rightly delighted with their 100% record. FGR have brought in some steel and determination, while losing some flair but at least for now it is a successful formula.
Rovers were unchanged from their opening day win at Southport, with James Jennings and Steve Arnold still injured. Chester would have been reeling from a first day hammering at home to Barnet but as usual brought a healthy following to Gloucestershire.
The first effort on goal was from John Rooney, Wayne’s brother, for Chester but it didn’t trouble Russell. After heading a Sinclair free-kick on target which was comfortably saved by Hall, Clovis Kamdjo opened the scoring for Rovers in the 9th minute. In a move of true quality, first Pipe found Parkin, whose first time ball wide-right fed Sinclair. He also played the ball first time, with a dangerous cross into the box which was met by Kamdjo, who turned the ball in confidently.
At this stage it was all FGR, forcing a succession of corners, with Frear and Hughes going close. Gradually though, the game became more scrappy and Chester started to get a foothold in the game.
Kamdjo was catching the eye for Rovers with a strong display in centre midfield, not only winning the ball but distributing sweetly around the park.
Rooney was again noticed – in an effort reminiscent of his brother in an England shirt – when he blazed a free-kick high and wide from a good position in the 36th minute. This was followed by two volleyed efforts from FGR from first Parkin and then Wedgbury but both missed the target.
The final act of the half was the much missed but remembered sight of Chris Stokes dancing past two defenders down the left but unfortunately he over-hit his cross to the far post.
Chester came out of the blocks in the second half in much more determined mood and pushed Rovers back with steady pressure. On the break Wedgbury forced Hall into a full-stretch save before ex-Macclesfield winger Peter Winn had a good run and shot.
However Rovers extended their lead in the 55th minute after some great determined play by Elliot Frear, who won the tussle for the ball on the FGR left and then sprinted past his opponent and laid on a lovely cross into the Chester box. The ball evaded Hughes but although Parkin’s initial effort was blocked, he cleverly switched the ball onto his right, calmly taking the ball into his stride and added a neat finish.
Chester however were in no mood to give up and had two half-chances, firstly a terrific spin and shot from Hobson was narrowly wide and then Charnock almost reached a long free-kick inside the Rovers’ six-yard box.
Frear was looking really dangerous though on the break for Rovers, showing great pace and providing quality crosses. After a bit of ‘handbags’ when Danny Coles was booked, FGR carved out a succession of good chances.
Firstly, Hughes’ near-post strike was well-saved by Hall, who then excelled with a point-blank stop from Frear who had found himself unmarked in a great position on the left of the box. The chance was set up by a great link between strikers Parkin and Hughes. Coles fed Hughes shortly afterwards down the right and his cross was met at the far post by Frear, who volleyed wide.
Both teams made substitutions, with Norwood, Guthrie and Rodgers coming on for FGR and the much travelled Chris Iwelumo entering the field for the visitors.
Rovers were made to regret not taking their chances on 78 minutes when Chester winger Peter Winn unleashed an absolute screamer into the right hand corner of Russell’s net.
It was proving to be a much better second half, with plenty of incident. Chester tried to press FGR back but the hosts always looked dangerous on the break.
Although the visitors huffed and puffed late in the game and forced one quality save from Russell, Rovers dug deep to see the game out and keep their perfect start intact.
It was telling that Ady Pennock said afterwards that he now had ‘proper players’ in the team who could grind out results in games like this one. He added that FGR would have lost this type of game last season in another dig at last year’s squad. When questioned about some aspects of the performance he was keen to say that his formula was based on winning games and on that basis he cannot yet be challenged.