FA Trophy First Round: Forest Green 1 Dartford 0
9:18am Wednesday 4th December 2013 in Gloucestershire Sport
MATTHEW Barnes-Homer's first half finish helped overcome league rivals Dartford at The New Lawn as Forest Green booked a place in the second round of the FA Trophy, writes Richard Joyce.
The forward bagged his sixth goal of the season with a firm strike towards the end of the first half that ensured Rovers would get it right at the second time of asking having originally settled for a draw in Kent at the weekend.
Dartford, struggling in the Conference Premier, had some threatening moments but spurned key chances in a game that otherwise provided little drama.
However Barnes-Homer's powerful strike, having been set up by the impeccable Ed Asafu-Adjaye, confirms that Rovers will travel to Lancashire later this month to face Evo-Stik Northern League high-flyers Chorley, who defeated Curzon Ashton on Saturday to earn their place in the next stage of the competition.
Anthony Barry replaced the injured Kieron Forbes in what was Rovers only change from the weekend as Stoke City loanee James Alabi was handed a starting berth once again in what was his home debut.
And it was the 19-year-old's strike partner, Danny Wright, who had Rovers’ first chance of the evening but his low shot was easily gathered by the Darts’ on-loan Portsmouth keeper, Phil Smith.
Adam Birchall was presented with the chance to blast Dartford in front from close range shortly after, but he smashed horribly over, as Forest Green pressure began to build.
Barnes-Homer fired his first effort on goal, which was easily kept out by Smith, while a Wright header and James Norwood volley saw the home side come very close to breaking the deadlock.
But it was Barnes-Homer who finally did, ten minutes before half-time. He was found in space by Asafu-Adjaye and his peach of a shot was brilliantly placed as it slammed into the back of the net.
The summer signing from Macclesfield almost doubled Rovers’ lead a minute before the break, however Smith was equal to his attempt as he pushed his effort out for a corner.
Speculative efforts dominated the start of the second half, with Norwood and Saturday's goalscorer Yan Klukowski both firing wide, while Dartford's Kenny Clark almost inadvertently headed into his own net when clearing the ball for a corner.
Dave Martin's turn inside saw him fire a powerful effort off for the visitors which didn't worry Sam Russell as the game petered out towards the closing stages.
Darts substitute Max Cornhill came close to earning his side a dramatic late leveller in stoppage time, as his header missed the goal by inches, but Barnes-Homer's first half strike was enough to ensure that Rovers would be facing a trip to Lancashire ahead of their busy Christmas schedule.
Forest Green have no game this weekend.
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