Minnows win penalty shootout 8-7
FOREST Green were knocked out of the Gloucestershire Senior Cup after a tense penalty shootout saw Cinderford Town squeeze into the semi-finals, writes Richard Joyce.
George Washbourne and Yemi Odubade’s saved penalties, after a tight ninety minutes that jumped straight into a shootout, ensured Rovers took an early exit from the competition for the second season in a row against a Southern League South & West Division side.
Led by assistant manager Gary Seward, a strong Forest Green line up saw Jamie Collins gain valuable game time as captain while Dale Bennett, Ben Wright and Yan Klukowski all featured along with on loan midfield man Lee Fowler.
Despite fielding a competent starting XI, an entertaining first half saw Forest Green fall behind early on as Andy Lewis slammed in from close range but Saul Williams’s cool finish levelled the affair only for Jack Camm to restore the visitors lead just before the interval.
But a Dan Harrison own goal in the second half which saw Rovers impose immense pressure on their part-time opponents saw the game through to spot kicks and Cinderford, came out on top.
In difficult greasy conditions, Rovers got off to the worst possible start when just a couple of minutes in failure to clear a Cinderford set piece caused trouble in the box and Lewis hammered in from close range to kick start a dream opening for the Foresters.
Frustrated to have gone behind early on, Rovers set themselves in to their slick passing football and saw their first major move hit the back of the net, only for Wright’s confident finish after good work by Yemi Odubade to be ruled out for offside by the officials.
Collins then almost combined with Odubade to crash in a Wright free kick as Forest Green’s continuing pressure led to their equaliser just past the quarter of an hour mark.
Klukowski and James Rowe combined well with the latter producing a good stop from Cinderford keeper Alex Harris only for the ball to drop to Williams who drove in convincingly.
Washbourne, currently out on loan at Redditch United, then fired an effort wide while Wright and Klukowski attempted speculative efforts ahead of a surprise strike just before the break which handed Cinderford the lead once again.
Camm’s determined drive forward saw him pump a strike past the on rushing Matt Bulman and heading into the interval the Southern League side had their lead back.
A mass of Rovers possession in the second period, like so often before in league action, failed to deliver goals, despite efforts from Wright and Klukowski early on which threatened the visitors goal.
Another low Wright effort almost squirmed in on a wet surface under Harris ahead of the equaliser which came from the unfortunate head of Harrison, attempting to clear, who directed the ball spectacularly into the back of his own net.
The games latest leveller inspired Rovers to go and try and find a winner, however it was Cinderford who came closest with former Forest Green winger Lee Smith firing two efforts in on goal which Bulman was equal to each time.
Smith’s thrashes at goal proved to be the final opportunities of a quieter second half and the decision was made by referee Tim Wood to move straight to a penalty shootout instead of an additional half hour of extra time.
Both sides’ attempts from 12 yards out were impressive given the energy they had put into a night playing on a slippery surface, and after Camm had failed to hit the target Odubade saw his effort blocked by Harris in the shootout.
The battle from the penalty spot entered into sudden death and with the visitors, who went first, 8-7 up, teenager Washbourne stepped up and was denied by Harris to send Cinderford into a semi-final away tie against either Yate Town or Bristol Rovers.
Forest Green: M Bulman, E Asafu-Adjaye, G Washbourne, J Collins (Z Messenger), D Bennett, J Rowe, L Fowler, Y Klukowski, Y Odubade, S Williams, B Wright.
Subs not used: R Brown, D Martin, J Martin, C Hicks.
Cinderford: A Harris, K Thomas, M Smith (W Archer), D Harrison, A Lewis, J Camm, D Haines, D Evans (D Bird), S O'Sullivan, L Smith, J Emery (A Malcolm).
Subs not used: G Lewis, L Sommers.