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Match Reports

REPORT: Forest Green 0-0 Stevenage

21 August 2018

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MH Sports Photo - Martyn Haworth

Onto Yeovil..

Stevenage made it four league games unbeaten to the start the season on Tuesday night as all of Boro’s battling qualities were out on show at Forest Green.

The home side piled on the pressure for much of the game but a performance full of heart, character and fight meant for an entertaining goalless draw at The New Lawn.

Boro had chances of their own, particularly in the first half, but Rovers proved a stern test as they continued their own unbeaten run.

Dino Maamria named two changes to the side that beat Morecambe on Saturday as Ben Kennedy and Ronnie Henry were restored to the starting line-up, replacing Ben Nugent and Emmanuel Sonupe.

It was a fast and physical start to the contest with several crunching challenges and heavy aerial collisions coming inside the first ten minutes. Henry and Timlin both receiving early whacks during a frenetic opening to the game.

Maamria’s men came into the game off the back of two straight wins and they played like it. Moving the ball with pace, urgency and a clear identity, Stevenage were bossing proceedings during the first 30 minutes of the contest.

It took 20 minutes to force Sanchez into his first save though and it came from the left boot of Kennedy, whose snap-shot following a corner was struck sweetly, but just too close to the keeper.

Kennedy was at the centre of it again a few minutes later. After managing to beat his man through the centre and appearing to be in on-goal, a desperate Rovers challenge came in from behind and took out the Northern Irishman, but the referee was having none of it.

With 15 minutes left in the half, Forest Green began to get to grips with the game and were soon on top.

Doidge saw a well hit shot blocked by Cutbert before Reuben Reid arrived late at the back-post where his cushioned effort towards the far corner thankfully landed just wide.

The physical nature of the game continued throughout the first half and former Forest Green man, Kurtis Guthrie was often on the receiving end of it. Competing for every ball that came into him, the attacker found himself an easy target.

It was a nervy end to the half for Boro as the Green Devils continued to press for an opener – the Stevenage defenders all needing to be right on top of their games to repel the growing threat.

Right at the start of the second period, Sanchez was called into action as James Ball hit a beautifully struck free-kick that had the Forest Green keeper scrambling to keep the scores level. Just a week earlier of course, Ball made it count from outside the box with a stunning free-kick at Carrow Road.

Rawson came close minutes later as he headed into the side-netting from a Forest Green corner. Both side going toe-to-toe as they looked to preserve their unbeaten starts to the seasons.

On 62 minutes Paul Farman had to make his first save of the game and what a save it was. Theo Archibald ghosting into the box after some clever build-up play by the home side before striking a fierce effort high and on target, only for Farman to make an incredible reaction stop.

After being thrust back into the team at centre-back, club captain Ronnie Henry made the challenge of the game as Rovers looked to spring a rapid counter-attack with a long ball over the top for danger man, Christian Doidge. After a good first touch and with the goal at his mercy, back came Henry flying in to get a vital touch on the ball.

What happened next was a goal-line scramble of the ages as shot after shot and block after block ensued within the space of seconds, before Farman was able to gather hold of the spinning ball to finally relieve the pressure.

The home side kept on coming and it was time for Stevenage to dig deep. Knowing that a chance to win it was only ever one attack away, motivation to stay in the game ran deep.

That chance nearly came with just over 10 minutes to go as Guthrie and then Reid both saw shots blocked inside the box, the latter’s coming off the line.

Stevenage’s brief spell of pressure didn’t deter Rovers though as they would hit back with the best chance of the game for either side. Substitute George Williams’ flying header from just 6 yards blazed over the bar.

In the end it was a great point for the red and white’s as both sides were held goalless. A fourth Sky Bet League Two game unbeaten ahead of Saturday’s trip to Yeovil.

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