BSP: Cambridge United 0 Forest Green Rovers 0
FOREST Green boss David Hockaday is still clinging on to his play-off hopes after he declared himself "very happy" at the quality his side displayed in their 0-0 draw at Cambridge United, writes Andy Ward.
His team created match-winning chances but failed to score for the third consecutive match.
Hockaday said: "We dominated the play, and we made the kind of chances that win games.
"Their keeper made two outstanding saves in the first half, then their player on the goal-line didn't know much about it when he was hit by Chris Stokes' shot.
"I was very happy with the quality of our football, but we didn't get the breaks, and that included a couple of decisions about hand-ball in the box. We threw forwards on towards the end, but just could not get the goal."
Rovers welcomed back Aarran Racine and the injury hit Keiron Forbes, but the luckless midfielder was substituted at the break for Matty Taylor, who had previously been dropped. Yemi Odubade replaced Taylor with two minutes left-much to his annoyance.
The result could have been very different had Paul Green scored with a third-minute header from Lee Fowler's well-judged free-kick but United goalkeeper Craig Ross made an excellent save.
It was another fifteen minutes before the game's next clear chance. Yan Klukowski, Fowler and the excellent Magno Vieira linked up well before Klukowski's shot was deflected wide.
The home crowd woke up in the 25th minute when a long ball from United captain Kevin Roberts found Harrison Dunk clear on the right and it took an excellent interception from Jamie Turley to curb the danger.
Then, a few minutes later, Jamie Reed's header looped on to the Rovers crossbar with a touch from goalkeeper Sam Russell.
Rovers had more of the possession and the chance of the match came their way after 36 minutes. Green played a superbly weighted pass inside Reed, Jared Hodgkiss drove a fierce low first-time centre to the edge of the goal area and Klukowski's right-foot finish was brilliantly blocked by the diving Ross.
Soon afterwards Russell only just clawed away Harrison Dunk's inswinger from the top corner, and Dunk held up a hand in apology to his colleagues for a wayward cross.
Shortly after half-time Turley kept Rovers in the match with a great block from a close-range Rossi Jarvis shot after Dunk had got to the goal-line and crossed. Rovers again came very close to scoring, after 63 minutes, when a Hodgkiss cross was dropped by Ross, under pressure from Taylor, and a volley by Stokes was chested off the line by Roberts.
After Turley almost connected with Fowler's free-kick, a superb 75th-minute James Norwood strike flew into the net only for the 'goal' to be cancelled out for Racine's foul on goalkeeper Ross.
Then Vieira and Taylor worked the ball nearly sixty yards down the pitch in a rapid breakaway before Taylor set up Norwood for a shot that was too high.
Hockaday made attacking substitutions in search of victory but his defenders had to endure some late Cambridge pressure to hold on to a point. Michael Gash used some nifty footwork to get to the Rovers goal-line but Liam Hughes miskicked the inviting cross.
Charlie Wassmer's header was tipped over by Russell, and the Rovers goalkeeper dived to save former Leeds man Tom Elliott's header from the corner. The siege on Sam Russell's goal continued: a free-kick went through to Rory McAuley but his shot was too high; Hodgkiss headed away a troublesome cross; and Russell saved a Roberts chip.
The final minute of injury-time brought United one more chance. Dunk, who had switched to his more familiar left wing, was in the process of racing past Hodgkiss when the Rovers skipper tugged him back for a well-deserved caution.
The free-kick, 12 yards from the goal-line, just outside the penalty area, was somehow scrambled away, ending a very entertaining second-half.
Cambridge: Ross, Roberts, Wassmer, McAuley, Haynes-Brown, Jarvis, Shaw, Gash, Dunk, Elliott, Reed (Hughes 56).
Forest Green: Russell, Hodgkiss, Turley, Racine, Stokes, Green, Forbes (Taylor 45) (Odubade 88), Fowler (Wright 71), Klukowski, Norwood, Vieira.
Star Man: Paul Green.