Youthful Forest Green catch the eye against Cheltenham
A YOUTHFUL Forest Green side exited the Gloucestershire Senior Cup against a Cheltenham Town outfit who lasted the distance to snatch a semi-finals place late on, writes Richard Joyce.
If there were to be any indications yet of the progress that has been made by Scott Barlett's youngsters in the developing Rovers academy, then this showing more than emphasised the brewing talent hovering behind the scenes.
League Two Cheltenham were equally as youthful with both sides also handing run outs to senior first team players.
Stephen Brogan and Magno Vieira gained minutes alongside Saul Williams who was back temporarily from his loan spell with Paulton Rovers to feature in the game.
Paul White meanwhile impressed in goal however it was Rovers youngsters who took many of the plaudits.
The entire back line was made up of teenagers while 16-year-old duo Aden Baldwin and Lou McGrory displayed their exciting potential.
Jonny Brodie's early second half goal had given Rovers the lead but as Forest Green began to tire, Cheltenham marched onwards, and they levelled five minutes from the end through James Bowen.
And the Whaddon Road outfit then ensured they would set up a semi-final tie with Bristol City by notching a stoppage time winner through Bobbie Dale.
Both sides matched each other all over the park all evening. It was FGR however who provided the first shot in anger as Brogan's attempt early on was hit straight at Wales under 21 shot-stopper Connor Roberts.
White then produced his first stop of the evening as he denied the lively Jamal Lawrence while Dan Martin, also returning to the ranks temporarily from a loan spell at Shortwood, saw his excellent turn midway through the half end with a finish fired straight at Roberts.
Bowen's header over the bar towards the end of the first half preceded a far busier second period which saw Forest Green strike early on.
Brodie was in the right place at the right time as the ball fell to the central defender and he smashed in to put Rovers a goal up.
Cheltenham's response was immediate and effective. Firstly Dale smashed over and then Bowen's header from the formers corner kick was collected comfortably by the assured White.
It was then Dale who wasted a heading opportunity on 71 minutes. Lawrence's cross was headed over the bar by the attacker after former Rotherham United midfielder Jason Taylor had driven a ball out wide.
Baldwin spread himself magnificently to deny Dale from close range but the defender could do nothing as the Football League side, looking even more dangerous by the minute, drew parity five minutes from time.
Bowen was on hand to get on the end of a Taylor cross that flashed across the face of goal and the Robins were level.
Only a minute later White was required to make a terrifically brave stop to deny Bowen who looked almost certain to add a second when flying centrally towards goal. And the keeper then made a superbly judged interception to halt Zack Kotwica.
However the Irishman could do nothing in the final few moments of the game as Dale knocked in with the simplest of finishes to book his side a semi-final visit to Ashton Gate.
FGR: P White, J Martin, C Pirie, A Baldwin, J Brodie, S Bevan (C Richings), S Williams (N Morgan), S Brogan, L McGrory (M Marquez), M Vieira, D Martin.
Subs not used: B Hodges, J Patel.
CHELTENHAM: C Roberts, C Craddock, C Braham-Barratt (D Reynolds), S Hamilton, N Rowe, J Taylor, A Powell, J Lawrence (J Goodwin), J Bowen, B Dale, Z Kotwica.
Subs not used: R Daly, C McFarlane, H Reynolds.
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