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FA Cup second round: Forest Green 2 Alvechurch 1 – March goal denies plucky Church

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Forest Green booked their place in the FA Cup third-round draw as former Alvechurch striker Josh March scored the winner against his old club.

In an anemic first-half, it was former Premier League striker Connor Wickham who gave Rovers the lead on 24 minutes from the spot – his side’s first shot in anger, sending Dan Jezeph the wrong way after Aurio Neto-Teixeira was adjudged to have upended March in the penalty box.

Four divisions and 92 places divided the two sides, but Southern League Premier Alvechurch grew into the game despite failing to muster a shot on Luke McGee’s goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Church looked to upset the odds when Jed Abbey curled in a sumptuous 49th-minute free-kick over the Rovers’ wall and beyond McGee to draw the non-league minnows level. However, Rovers regained the lead just two minutes later – March scoring off his shoulder from a searching Harry Boyes’ cross. Boyes forced Jezeph into a smart save and then Max Peart-Harris headed against the post as Ian Burchnall’s side turned up the heat.

Forest Green’s Dom Bernard was handed a second yellow with 20 minutes to go for a shirt pull, leaving his side to negate the remainder of the tie with 10 men.

Jezeph’s gloved response in the dying embers from Corey O’Keefe’s free-kick thwarted Rovers who progressed to the third round for the first time since 2010. 

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PSI DGN Bristol Rovers Forest Green Rovers 30Jul22 0606 | FA Cup second round: Forest Green 2 Alvechurch 1 - March goal denies plucky Church
Forest Green Head Coach Ian Burchnall on media duties Pro Sports Images

Rovers boss Ian Burchnall wants his boyhood club Leicester City in the third round after watching his League One strugglers negate plucky minnows Alvechurch, he told BBC Radio Gloucestershire: “I’m a Leicester boy and on a personal level that’s my boyhood club, so Leicester would be the one, but one of the big teams is the day out you want.”

Burchnall was certainly relieved to see his side see out the final 20 minutes after Dom Bernard saw red: “I’m very relieved, that was de-stressing after that result as it was a stressful last 20 minutes.

“I thought it was a really good game, Alvechurch were excellent and they have some really good players. First-half we controlled it really well, second-half they get that brilliant free-kick goal and after that our response was good, we score, hit the bar and create some good moments, but we didn’t get that third, and then you’re always tense, and obviously, the Dom Bernard sending off creates even more tension,  but Baily (Cargill) and Ben (Stevenson) come in and we dealt with everything they threw at us and I thought we showed good character in the last 15 minutes.”

Forest Green (3-4-1-2): McGee; O’Keeffe, Bernard, Moore-Taylor (c), Casey, Boyes, McGeough, Hendry (Stevenson, 74), Peart-Harris, Wickham (Cargill, 74), March.

Unused subs: Thomas, Jones, Bunker, Robertson, Bennett, Fiaemba.

Alvechurch (4-4-2): Jezeph; Burton (Bower, 83), Sephton (Olaloko, 93), Willets (c), Carter, Neto-Teixeira, Abbey, Edge, Waldron, Concannon, Skeen-Hamilton.

Unused subs: Brown,Randle, Taylor, Williams, Cassidy, Hallahan, Spiers.

Referee: Martin Coy

Attendance: 2,758

Away fans: 1,164

Star man: Matt Jezeph (Alvechurch)

Match rating:3 /5

MATCH STATS (Forest Green/Alvechurch)

SHOTS ON TARGET 9/1

SHOTS OFF TARGET 3/2

CORNERS 7/0

OFFSIDE 2/0

FOULS CONCEDED 8/10

YELLOW CARDS 2/0

RED CARDS 1/0

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