Hockaday salutes the fans' fervour
LAST-GASP GOAL: Captain goalscorer Anthony Barry (middle) celebrates his winner with Matthew Barnes-Homer (left) and Dale Bennett Pictures: Tom Wren
FOREST Green manager David Hockaday saluted the camaraderie fostered between his players and the fans on one of the most dramatic days in recent New Lawn history.
The last-gasp euphoria was positively tangible for a never-say-die Rovers side who were trailing to a first half FC Halifax penalty, but somehow they clawed-back the points in the dying embers of the match thanks to goals in the 92nd minute fron sub Magno Vieria and a 95th minute winner from captain Anthony Barry to move into third in the Skrill Premier.
The after-match scenes were reminiscent of a promotion party with the normally calm Hockaday fist pumping in Jose' Mourinho style and assistant Gary Seward opting for the type of nimble footwork seen on TV hit Strictly Come Dancing.
Hockaday said: "The fans need to be congratulated. "They kept on going and kept on believing with the players and we celebrate together because my team couldn't wait to go and support the three parts of the ground where our fans are.
"We went through Plans B, C, D and E, but we kept going. We talked about mental toughness during the week and we earned that result.
"It was probably more heart than thought at the end, but sheer bloody mindedness got us the three points and we're going to have games like that."
Rovers bossed the opening exchanges with their brand of slick passing football. Hockaday's side were up-and-running inside five minutes.
The front three of Danny Wright, Matty Taylor and James Norwood interchanged for the waspish Norwood to fizz wide.
For all of Rovers' dominance a moment of concern surfaced when Marc Roberts rose unmarked to nod into the gloves of Sam Russell, but Rovers pressed the self-destruct button on 33 minutes.
Eddie Oshodi won a block tackle against Adam Smith inside the box but as the ball broke, Oshodi was adjudged to have caught his man, and Gardner sent Russell the wrong way from the spot.
Rovers were rocked and FC Halifax should have made it 2-0 when Scott McManus nutmegged Jamie Turley to find Sean Williams who toe-poked wide. Rovers rallied with Norwood forcing a sprawling save from Matt Glennon.
Rovers switched to a three-man defence after the break, but failed to regain their rythmn. Taylor should have found parity on 59 minutes, but somehow contrived to fire into Glennon's body from point-blank range.
Hockaday opted to indulge in some tactical jiggery pokery. He rang the changes-including bringing on Matthew Barnes-Homer for Taylor-and Andy Mangan for Norwood, with the result that the encounter became frenetic.
Mangan was all over the place on his home debut in his second spell as Rovers poured forward.
Parity eventually came in the 92nd minute; Vieira turned to hook the ball home past the hand of a defender on the line.
Lois Maynard picked up a second caution for delaying a Rovers free-kick before the incredible winner on 95 minutes.
Barry beat Glennon from the edge of the area after the ball broke from a Barnes-Homer pass.
For Hockaday it was the kind of result he will use as a spur for the contests to come at leaders Cambridge United on Saturday and at home to Tamworth next Tuesday.
Forest Green: S Russell; J Turley, D Bennett, E Oshodi, J Hodgkiss; A Barry, A Bangura, Y Klukowski (M Vieira 64); M Taylor (M Barnes-Homer 62), D Wright, J Norwood (A Mangan 64).
Subs not used: A Racine, M Bulman.
FC Halifax Town: M Glennon; R Toulson, M Roberts, S Ainge, D Lowe; A Smith, M. Pearson (S Williams 77); L Maynard, S. McManus, D Gardner (J McReady 65); M Carver (J Ball 62).
Subs not used: P Senior, P Marshall.
Referee: Barratt (Worcs).
Star Man: Dale Bennett.
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