FOREST GREEN were dumped out of the FA Trophy after an uninspiring display against Blue Square North side Gainsborough Trinity, writes Richard Joyce.
Experienced striker Darryn Stamp bagged a brace to earn his side a place in the third round of the competition and an impressive extension to their recent form which has seen them suffer defeat just once in their last twelve games.
A second successive goal from Chris Stokes had given Rovers a foothold back in the game but despite a splurge of late pressure, the Lincolnshire side held on.
Manager Dave Hockaday said: “I’m really disappointed at the fact we lost the game. The intensity wasn’t there in the first half.
“In the second half I can’t fault the effort. I thought we were super, created lots of chances but it just wouldn’t go in for us.
“It wasn’t like it was a poor performance. It wasn’t like we were rubbish and they were all over us because (goalkeeper) Sam Russell hasn’t had a great deal to do, again, but we can’t keep on chasing games.
“We have to say all efforts on the league. We’ve got no distractions and we’ve got no excuses."
Jamie Collins' return from injury saw him handed the captain's armband as Reece Styche replaced Matty Taylor at the forefront of Rovers' front line.
And it was Styche early on who was making his impact known as Rovers dominated.
Gainsborough had produced very little but when offered the chance to enforce themselves on the game, they grasped it, and Stamp before put the away side in front. The former Northwich Victoria front man took control of a long ball forward and produced a well-executed lob over Sam Russell to silence the home crowd.
Stephen Brogan's curling free kick was driven against the woodwork as he came close to levelling for Rovers.
The first of many goal line clearances for the visitors then saw Collins' header blocked away following Brogan’s corner.
Hockaday introduced two new faces at the break with James Norwood and Matty Taylor unleashing a new degree of pace up front, and it was Norwood who almost headed in from Brogan’s neat cross a few minutes in.
The visitors defended excellently throughout the afternoon, and it was their qualities at the back that kept Rovers at bay during a second half.
Eddie Oshodi’s header straight at Jan Budtz from a whisked in Brogan free kick kicked off a flurry of chances and the goalkeeper was on call to make a fine double save moments later.
Omar Koroma’s dash at goal saw his deflected strike blocked away by Budtz and Taylor’s attempt at a follow up was again foiled while Brogan’s final contribution was to drag a shot well wide.
Stamp was giving the Rovers defence plenty to think about whenever the visitors could push the ball towards him, and he settled the tie with an instinctive strikers finish.
A rare Gainsborough corner fell to Stamp and he pounced ahead of anyone else to double his side’s lead.
Taylor’s never say die attitude contributed heavily to the goal that would see Forest Green get back in the game when the half time substitute chased down a loose ball and crossed for Stokes, who headed in.
With an eye on a replay, Forest Green surged forward and Yan Klukowski blasted over after Taylor had teed him up.
Another Stokes header was frantically headed away off the line by Josh Wilde but it was too late for Rovers as the dream of a return to Wembley faded away.
Forest Green: Russell; Turley, Racine, Oshodi, Stokes; Collins, Bangura, Brogan (Klukowski 66); Vieira (Norwood 46), Styche (Taylor 46), Koroma; Subs not used: Hodgkiss, Jarvis.