Something to build on...
The homecoming of Graham Westley was almost the perfect story as Stevenage had chances to win the game late on, but a resilient Forest Green team stood firm and the game ended goalless.
In his first full game back at The Lamex, Graham Westley made four changes to the team that fell to defeat to Crewe Alexandra last weekend.
Paul Digby, Jason Cowley, Charlie Lakin and Dean Parrett returned to the starting eleven, while Terence Vancooten, Paul Taylor and Michael Timlin were named on the bench. Emmanuel Sonupe missed out due to injury.
Graham Westley’s name rung around the stadium as the newly-appointed Manager took charge of Stevenage for fourth time. Immediately, you could sense the changes that the new gaffer had implemented, with a 4-4-2 Diamond and high work rate.
The game started with promise for Stevenage, as both Ben Kennedy and Dean Parrett looked to have a new lease of life. Kennedy’s tight dribbling skills would cause the Forest Green defenders problems all afternoon, and was fouled on the edge of the opposition’s box within minutes. Ben Kennedy took, but his ball aimed at Ben Nugent was worthless as Nugent was deemed to foul his man.
The midfield four of Charlie Lakin, Charlie Carter, Dean Parrett and Ben Kennedy were enjoying their football. Keeping the ball on the deck and playing triangles around the visitors’ press, Stevenage were slowly but surely asserting their dominance in front of the home crowd.
The first real chance of the game came to the visitors on fifteen minutes. James Morton’s free-kick from deep was aimed to the back post for Matt Mills to get on the end of, but the defender could not guide his effort on target.
The game continued to swing in either side’s possession, with neither side being able to carve out any real opportunities in the early stages.
Jason Cowley’s chip on the half hour mark could only find the roof of the Forest Green net, before the forward was booked for simulation minutes later.
A wonder double save from Paul Farman kept the score goalless with five minutes to go until half-time, before Dean Parrett’s deflected effort from outside the box could only loop over the bar.
Chances for Paul Digby and Joseph Mills at either end could not trouble the opposing goalkeeper, as the two sides went into the break at 0-0.
The second half almost got off to the perfect start for Stevenage, after Charlie Carter charged forwards to meet Tyler Denton’s cross from deep, but could only head wide.
Ben Kennedy’s looping cross almost found the back post, before Elliott List could only find the gloves of Adam Smith from six yards.
Ben Kennedy looked like the Kenners the Boro fans knew and loved of previous seasons, and was causing much a tricky afternoon for the Rovers’ back line. His combination play with Elliott List resulted in chances for both of them to out Boro ahead, but as the story of the season continued, the ball would not hit the back of the net.
Twenty minutes to go, and Stevenage had the best chance of the game. It was that man again, Ben Kennedy, at the heartbeat of Stevenage’s attacking play. The midfielder drove forward with the ball from deep before squaring it to an open Jason Cowley, but a last ditch challenge halted the threat.
Stevenage did have the ball in the back of the net minutes later, however. But the linesman’s flag was raised. Craig Mackail-Smith swivelled and volleyed the ball into the back of the Forest Green net, only for celebrations to be stopped early by the man with the flag.
Six minutes of added time were added, as Stevenage ran out of gas trying to put the ball in the net, Mark Cooper’s side grew in confidence.
Penalty appeals down either end of the pitch were waved away by the referee, as the game ended goalless in what was a thrilling affair.
Att. 2388 inc 146 away.