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Casey red changes complexion of game as Forest Green face up to relegation reality

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Forest Green are now 11 points from safety after they were beaten 2-1 away at fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley.

A Myles Peart-Harris goal had Rovers ahead and in control before Blackpool loanee Oliver Casey was shown a straight red card for a high tackle, flipping the match on its head.

Aaron Pressley scored from the resulting free-kick and Rosaire Longelo won it for Accrington in the second half, to leave boss Duncan Ferguson with two points from his first seven games in charge.

Rovers had started brightly, forcing keeper Lukas Jensen into two great saves from Peart-Harris and Corey O’Keefe, before O’Keefe countered an Accrington corner on 22 minutes and squared to Peart-Harris who slid the ball under Jensen for his sixth goal of the season.

The game-changing moment came on the stroke of half-time as Casey saw red for a high challenge on Nathan Butler-Oyedeji.

Sean McConville’s free-kick found Pressley, whose header was spilled into the roof of the net by Rovers keeper Ross Doohan. Stanley then took advantage of the extra man in the second half, with Longelo cutting in off the right and firing a low shot that found its way under the body of Doohan, dragging the Lancashire side out of the relegation zone.

Ferguson said: “We were playing so well, comfortable in the game and were dominant of possession. I was really happy with the way were shaping up.”

“I never felt like [Accrington Stanley] were going to score. The referee sees it how he does and gives Casey a straight red card, but I thought it was soft, a yellow would have been an easy decision and we move on with the match, their players surrounded and him and he buckled under pressure.”

“It changed the whole game, they scored from that action and then we had to fight for the full second half with ten men. We held as long as we could and then they got the second goal, it was a poor goal from our point of view, but I always felt we could nick one on the counter-attack with getting good quality in the box but it never quite happened.

“[Doohan] should’ve saved both of them and I’ve told him in there that it’s not good enough,” Ferguson added.

Forest Green’s attentions will turn to the visit of Bristol Rovers on Saturday, but another performance with positives ended in defeat and time is rapidly running out on the side’s chances of a great escape.

Accrington Stanley: Jenson, Fernandes (Nolan 64), Rodgers, Sangare, Clark, Conneely, Quirk (Martin 45), Longelo (Tharme 87), Butler-Oyedeji (Adedoyin 71), McConville, Pressley

Subs not used: Mancini, Isherwood, Adekoya

Forest Green Rovers: Doohan, Godwin-Malife, Casey, Cooper, Robson, McGeouch (McCann 83), Savage, O’Keeffe (Bernard 83), Peart-Harris, Garrick (McAllister 56), Bakayoko (Omotoye 62) 

Subs not used: Cargill, O’Brien Thomas

Attendance: 2,224; 

Referee: Declan Bourne

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