Crawley Town 2 Forest Green 0
Whilst a late-season implosion is unlikely, champions-elect Forest Green are certainly having a wobble.
Rovers tasted their first away defeat of the season at Crawley Town on Saturday – making it back-to-back defeats with just 14 games of the regular season to go. However, with a 10-point lead at the top of the table and with two games in hand over second-placed Tranmere, Rob Edwards’ side remain in rude health as they prepare to travel to Newport County on Tuesday.
Rovers failed to hit their straps at Crawley, but for a bright start from the get-go – Matty Stevens and Jordan Moore-Taylor inducing a double-save from Glen Morris. The fleet-footed Kane Wilson should have done better when his buccaneering run into the box saw him stab wide with his left boot.
Rovers fell behind for the fifth straight game when sub Ashley Nadesan shrugged off Moore-Taylor to finish beyond the exposed Luke McGee to give John Yems’ side a 24th-minute lead. Rovers were all at sea when Jordan Tunnicliffe climbed above Ebou Adams to make it 2-0 on 31 minutes.
Referee Chris Pollard failed to reappear after the break after taking a tumble in the first-half, meaning the interval had a five-minute extension.
Edwards turned to his bench – shuffling his pack by introducing Jack Aitchison with 31 minutes to go. The Barnsley loanee caught the eye – adding energy in the final third and registering five shots.
With the clock ticking, Rovers gave themselves a glimmer of hope through an unlikely source -the recalled Dom Bernard fizzing in for his first goal in 96 games with 11 minutes to go.
With tails wagging, Rovers almost snatched a point in stoppage-time – Dan Sweeney bundling the ball in at the back post, but Kane Wilson was adjudged to have impeded Morris and celebrations were cut short.
Crawley Town: Morris; Tunnicliffe, Craig, Lynch; Ferry, Francomb (Davies 86), Payne, Powell, Tsaroulla; Hutchinson (Nichols 69), Oteh (Nadesan 15).
Subs not used: Seymour, Gallacher, Marshall
Forest Green Rovers: McGee; Godwin-Malife, Moore-Taylor, Bernard; Wilson, Stevenson (Aitchison 59), Hendry (Sweeney 73), Cadden; Adams; Stevens (March 69), Matt.
Subs not used: Thomas, Cargill, Diallo, McAteer.
Referee: Christopher Pollard.
Star man: Dom Bernard.
Next up: Rovers travel to Newport County on Tuesday night.