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Gaffer tapes: Forest Green boss Ferguson bemoans defensive errors as Gas turn up the heat

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Forest Green manager Duncan Ferguson believes defensive errors cost his side as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at home to Bristol Rovers.

FGR had led inside 12 minutes when Charlie Savage’s left-footed strike found the back of the net, but John Marquis soon equalised and Scott Sinclair rolled home at the second attempt to put Bristol Rovers in front inside the first half an hour. Marquis doubled his tally and put The Gas two goals ahead on the hour, with Corey O’Keefe missing a penalty late on to leave Forest Green twelve points from safety at the bottom of Sky Bet League One.

Ferguson said: “I thought we started the game very well, the game plan worked and we looked quite bright, took our goal well and then made a few mistakes.”

“I can’t complain about the player’s effort, they’re putting everything in. I felt they looked a bit nervous today, technically we weren’t as good as we’ve been recently, apart from the first 20 minutes. The three goals were soft and we never capitalised on scoring the first goal. We just seem to be making mistakes, teams aren’t cutting us open, we just seem to be giving them the goals.”

Rovers started brightly again, with a long kick up the pitch finding Jordan Garrick racing way, before he cut back and laid off Manchester United loanee Savage, who struck with his left foot from the edge of the box to beat Bristol Rovers keeper James Belshaw and claim his first professional goal.

Bristol Rovers struck back almost immediately, the ball falling kindly to ex-FGR striker Aaron Collins, who set up Marquis to shift onto his left and fire past Lewis Thomas. On 29 minutes, a poor clearance from Udoka Godwin-Malife allowed the away side to find Scott Sinclair in space, his initial shot was saved by Thomas but fell kindly to the winger to finish coolly into an empty net.

FGR never looked like replying and Bristol Rovers doubled their advantage in the second half when Marquis flicked home a corner for his second of the match.

The home side were given a lifeline with seven minutes to go when Corey O’Keefe was brought down in the area and he stepped up to take the penalty, much to the dismay of teammate Myles Peart-Harris who had also wanted it, throwing his gloves in disgust before O’Keefe’s tame strike was saved by Belshaw low to his right.

“Obviously, [our defenders] got caught on the ball for one of the goals, but my centre-back gets sent off last week so it was all hands on deck with players playing out of position,” said Ferguson.

“We should have defended the set play better (for the third goal) and then we don’t finish the penalty. If we defended set plays better and took the penalty we’d have got out with a draw.

“I’m not sure what O’Keefe and Peart-Harris were doing. Corey stepped up and the keeper makes a save,” he added.

It will get no easier for the Nailsworth side, with next weekend’s visit to second-placed Plymouth the first in a run of six games against teams in the top ten league positions. 

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