Watching FGR gets better and better.
A powerful Luton side, playing before a noisy partisan crowd of more than 6,000 were matched by a swiftly maturing Forest Green team, showing character, courage and determination.
The worst was feared after Luton went ahead early in the game, but Rovers did not crumble. Instead they regrouped, fought back, found parity and at half-time could have gone in ahead.
Everyone had responded, there were heroes all over the field, and the expensively assembled Luton team knew they would be in a battle for the rest of the game.
A penalty had been given against Rovers, perhaps harshly, but that is what happens when you are playing away. It was missed in spectacular fashion.
Rover’s goal was splendidly executed. An exquisitely delivered Klukowski free kick – a thumping Taylor header and Rovers were back on level terms. Some reports described the header as ‘glancing’. It was not Matty met the cross firmly and with tremendous accuracy.
I enjoyed the duels Taylor had with Luton defender Steve McNulty, Built like Trevor Horsley, but with a shorter hair cut, McNulty impressed me. These fans were noisy and partisan, exactly as home supporters should be. They were a very effective twelfth man, inspiring and perhaps influencing the match officials.
The small band of away fans (just over 100) responded splendidly. During the second half they could be heard around the ground as they were outnumbered by 60-1. Proud and loud they supported Rovers augmented by an equally vocal group of injured squad members. The second half saw two red cards.
Referee Kinseley is a known prolific card wielder and when given the opportunity did so again. Experienced players like Lawless and Bangura should have known better. Neither were innocent, but in the melee that followed Bangura's red card I thought others guilty as well.
We also saw the first appearance of Dale Bennett in a Rovers shirt. He is a true warrior, both swift and determined. Despite narrow squeaks there were no more goals and the game quietly subsided. It had been another fine advertisement for the Blue Square Premier. It proved to me that Rovers are good enough for the play-offs and good enough for promotion – but so are Grimsby, Wrexham, Mansfield, Luton and Kidderminster.
Newport may be failing. It will be the teams that keep going to the end and have a good push at Easter that will go up. No game will be easy. There was a name for the future on the team sheet Saturday – Saul Williams was named as substitute. He will have gained much from being closely involved in such a game, and his confidence will be boosted by the faith the manager has shown in him Good Luck for the future Saul, and for our other youth players.
I close with two votes of thanks. First to Luton. Messrs Joyce, Healey and Light were escorted to the ticket office by Luton legend and England International Brian Stein. Then we were shown the press lounge and given a programme and at half-time there was tea, coffee and lashings of sandwiches, as well as a chance to warm up. Well done Luton and take note FGR!
The warmest vote however goes to the management, staff and players of Forest Green Rovers. At home against Wrexham and at intimidating Kenilworth Road they have played a full part in two thrilling matches. Ability and attitude cannot be questioned.
We are all on a stirring journey. It will be fun wherever it ends.