Slimbridge 0 Forest Green 1
JAMES Norwood’s strike six minutes before half-time gave Forest Green a narrow victory over Slimbridge, who did themselves proud with an impressive display against their illustrious opponents.
The Western League Premier Division side restricted a very strong Rovers outfit to just one goal and could even have taken something from the game with Adam Mace and Jamie Hammond, who was at Cheltenham Saracens last season, both going close to finding the net in front of a healthy crowd of 362 for this traditional pre-season friendly at Wisloe Road on Tuesday night.
New signing Jon Parkin was handed his first start for Forest Green and he wasn’t the only giant on the Forest Green team sheet with defender Luke Oliver making his return from injury at the back, but Lee Hughes was ruled out after picking up a knock.
Forest Green almost went ahead within the first minute when they won a corner and Elliott Frear whipped a delivery that Adam Baldwin headed powerfully towards the top corner, only for Dave Evans to superbly tip the ball away with his outstretched left hand.
Parkin showcased his talent in a sweeping Forest Green move by bringing the ball down well and spreading the play wide with a lovely pass, matched by sublime control and an inviting low cross by Frear, but Norwood fluffed his lines as he missed the target horribly.
Slimbridge saw little of the ball in the opening stages but kept plugging away and created a clear cut chance on 28 minutes when livewire striker Sean Lawson, who caused the Rovers defence problems throughout, wriggled away from Oliver on the byline and sent in a cross with the unmarked Mace heading narrowly over from ten yards.
Just as it looked like Slimbridge were going to survive until half-time, Norwood was afforded a bit of space on the edge of the box to receive the ball from Rob Sinclair, turn and drill a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Ten minutes into the second half Rovers captain David Pipe made a charging run down the right and his deep cross reached Frear, whose thumping shot stung Evans’ gloves as he tipped the ball round the post.
Norwood almost managed a repeat of his goal as he made space for himself again 20 yards out but this time he dragged the shot wide.
Sam Russell made a fine stop to prevent Slimbridge from equalising in the 74th minute, though, diving to his left to get a hand to Hammond’s first-time volley after Jamie Martin’s ball over the top caught the Rovers defence out.
Rovers finished the game with 11 Academy players as the first-teamers made way and Joe Stokes almost added a second when he fired just wide from the edge of the box.
Slimbridge: Evans (c), Preece, Ry Thwaite, Ri Thwaite, Tunnicliff, Ward, Fahy, Twyman, Lawson, Martin, Mace. Rolling subs: Robinson, Cole, Turner, Parrott, Hammond.
Forest Green: Russell (Meare, 76); Pipe (c) (Langman, 76), Oliver (Ripley, 46), Baldwin (Heather, 76) Jennings (Talbot, 76); Sinclair (Mundy, 76), Kamdjo (Stokes, 76), McGrory (Cook, 76), Frear (Thompson, 76); Norwood (Youngsum, 76), Parkin (Richards, 46).
Ref: Steve Glyde.
Star men: Sean Lawson (Slimbridge), James Norwood ( Forest Green).
Forest Green sent another squad to Gloucester City on the same night and came away with a 5-3 win.
Danny Wright bagged a brace with other goals coming from Luke Rodgers, the returning Chris Stokes and Kurtis Guthrie.
Rovers’ next game is away to Brimscombe and Thrupp next Tuesday night.
Slimbridge are at home to Southern League side Shortwood United on Friday night before visiting Fairford Town on Tuesday (both 7.30pm).