Forest Green Rovers 1 Swindon Town 2
Frazer Blake-Tracy’s superb stoppage-time strike saw Swindon Town come from behind to beat 10-man Forest Green at The New Lawn.
Matty Stevens had scored his second goal of the season with a cool low finish into the far corner to round off a superb first half for the home side but Dan Kemp equalised two minutes into the second half before Rovers midfielder Harvey Bunker was sent for a second yellow card with half an hour still to play.
The home side’s tireless last-ditch defending was finally undone in the 94th minute, defender Blake-Tracy’s thunder strike nestling into the top corner.
Rovers had keeper Luke Daniels to thank throughout, as did Swindon with Murphy Mahoney, both making acrobatic saves consistently throughout both halves and Kyle McAllister impressed on both wings despite the late defeat.
Boss David Horseman made two changes to the side that recorded a first away win in over a year at Harrogate, with Dylan Kadji dropping to the bench and Callum Jones facing an extended period on the sidelines with a hairline fracture, allowing Teddy Jenks and Bunker to return.
Michael Flynn handed a full Swindon debut to Brookyln Genesini as one of three changes, Liam Kinsella earnt his first league start and former Forest Green title winner Jake Young was rewarded for getting on the scoresheet in the Crewe draw with a place in the XI alongside skipper Charlie Austin up front.
Rovers got their reward for a strong start in the 15th minute, as high pressure saw Stevens win the ball before intricate play from Jenks and Bunker allowed Stevens to progress into the Swindon box before coming in on his right foot and guiding a perfectly placed shot across Mahoney and into the far corner for his second goal in as many matches.
Swindon almost had the perfect reply less than minute later when George McEachran’s stinging left footed strike from the edge of the area rattled the crossbar with Daniels rooted to the spot.
Omotoye was unlucky not to double Forest Green’s lead after meeting McAllister’s inch perfect cross from the right wing, the striker heading the ball with control into the ground, but Mahoney held on to the rising ball. The Town keeper was then forced into three fingertip saves, first to deny a Jamie Robson cross from flying into the top corner before two quickfire headers from the resulting corner saw him tip the ball over the bar once more, winding himself in the process.
Daniels showed off his own acrobatics to tip over Austin’s sweetly struck volley after bringing the ball down on his chest outside the area.
Kyle McAllister found joy against Swindon’s lack of orthodox full backs, twice receiving the ball on the right hand touchline before cutting in and curling a shot just wide of the far post.
The home side exploited that weakness throughout the first 45 and Blake-Tracey was forced into bringing Omotoye down as the striker span him following an aerial ball forward, the Town defender escaping with a yellow.
Swindon were stronger out of the blocks as the second half got underway, Daniels did well to keep the ball out after Austin guided Genisini’s cross towards goal, but the rebound fell straight into the path of Kemp who headed into an empty net.
Bunker was sent off in the 61st minute, a seemingly inconspicuous challenge deemed a second bookable offence by referee Sunny Gill, much to the disbelief of the Rovers midfielder. The home side were then reprimanded for dissent twice in the next 10 minutes, substitute Kadji and captain Dom Bernard both shown yellows in line with the EFL’s crackdown on disrespectful behaviour to match officials.
Swindon’s skipper Austin had the three best chances to win the game for either side, one right footed effort held comfortably by Daniels before another was blasted over the top, but his best chance came with 10 minutes left, played in behind the last line of defence before hitting his shot straight at Daniels from six yards out.
Forest Green had managed to block everything that came towards their net into added time, but the final blocked effort fell to Blake-Tracy, his left footed effort rising beyond Daniels into the top left corner to settle a lively encounter.
Forest Green will entertain Newport County on Saturday, the Welsh side coming off the back of a 4-2 defeat against Crewe. Swindon are off to Wales themselves, with a trip to Wrexham for the first time since an FA Cup game in November 2009.
Forest Green: Daniels, Bernard (c), Inniss, Moore-Taylor, Robson, Bunker, McCann, McAllister, Jenks, Stevens, Omotoye.
Subs: Searle, Robertson, Welch, Kadji, Bendle, Maddox, Taylor.
Swindon: Mahoney, Hutton, Godwin-Malife, Brewitt, Blake-Tracy, Genesini, Kinsella, Kemp, McEachran, Young, Austin (c).
Subs: Brann, Ward, Minturn, Cain, Uwakwe, Brown, Kanu.
Referee: Sunny Singh Gill