REPORT – Forest Green 3-1 Torquay United

Forest Green Rovers 3 Torquay United 1
By Neil Martin

The introduction of substitute Keanu Marsh-Brown just before the hour mark changed the game for FGR, as he created the first two goals and then made the points safe with a wonderful strike in added time. Until his arrival Rovers had laboured, as lowly Torquay looked sharper and hungrier and had taken a deserved lead.

FGR made just the one change from the win over Kidderminster, with Marcus Kelly dropping to the bench to be replaced by James Jennings at left-back.

Despite the BT Sport cameras in attendance and the obvious desire to seek revenge for Torquay’s 4-1 win on Boxing Day, Rovers were lacklustre from the start. Torquay, without ever really dominating, were organised and pacy up front with Marsh showing well. The visitors, belying their league status, caused keeper Arnold some nervous moments with testing far post crosses and generally appeared to have more desire in a turgid first half.

FGR did finish the half better with a series of Frear free-kicks being well defended but overall it was a strangely low key effort from the home side.

Within two minutes of the restart Torquay went in front, when Butler’s cross from the left wasn’t dealt with by three Rovers defenders and Verma neatly side-footed home at the far post. This still didn’t extract much of a reaction from FGR, until a double change from Ady Pennock on 58 minutes, as Guthrie and Marsh-Brown came on for Williams and Parkin. The lack of pace in the Rovers team had to be addressed and Marsh-Brown set about doing that with a spectacular cameo.

On 67 minutes Rovers were level, albeit with an element of good fortune, as Marsh-Brown’s teasing free-kick drifted towards the far post and was touched by Guthrie on to defender Gerring, who turned the ball into his own net. Rovers built on this and forced Torquay back and on 79 minutes Marsh-Brown won the ball in midfield and freed Elliot Frear who cut in and shot just over, with others probably better placed to score.

Marsh-Brown again made a significant contribution in Rovers’ second goal on 83 minutes. His cut back from the right found Frear in a central position in front of goal and his measured shot was handled by Torquay’s Berry, to divert the ball wide. Referee Rushton had no hesitation in giving FGR a crucial penalty but puzzlingly did not send Berry off for deliberate handball. The experienced Darren Carter stepped forward and stroked the penalty home to give Rovers a precious late lead.

A sublime cross from Marsh-Brown fell beautifully for Frear to volley but his shot went into the ground and wide. However in added time Torquay gave too much space to super sub Marsh-Brown and his shot from 25 yards swerved wickedly past keeper Lavercombe and into the top of the net.

It was a great finish to any game and sent the home fans happy after a first hour that would not have helped their New Year hangovers.

Rovers moved to within 4 points of leaders Cheltenham and belatedly got revenge for their Boxing Day hiding at the seaside.

FGR – Arnold, Bennett, Jennings, Racine, Clough, Wedgbury, Sinclair, Carter,  Frear, Williams, Parkin

Torquay – Lavercombe, Butler, MacDonald, Geohaghon, Marsh, Gerring, Nicholson, Verma, Wright, Berry

Att – 1,907 (away 222)

Severn Sport Man of the Match – Keanu Marsh-Brown