Forest Green 1 Hartlepool United 1
Measured Forest Green boss Rob Edwards is still taking it one game at a time after his champions-elect were forced to share the spoils against a dogged Hartlepool.
Regan Hendry’s 53rd-minute screamer put Rovers’ noses in front but Omar Bogle netted parity with 21 minutes to go.
Both sides had chances to win it in stoppage-time with Pools’ substitute Joe Grey spanking wide and Rovers’ Kasey McAteer missing a glorious chance at the death. Edwards said: “After going 1-0 up and on the balance of play, I’m disappointed, but the bottom line is we’re one point closer.
“We started the second-half reasonably well and it was a fantastic goal from Regan Hendry and we had chances to win it, but seven points from this week, I think if we’re all being honest, at the beginning of the week, we would all would have taken that,” said Edwards.
“In the position, we were in today, 1-0 up with however many minutes left, we all wanted three points.”
Captain Jamille Matt was forced off with a concussion in the first-half, but Edwards confirmed his talisman suffered no ill effects: “Jamma (Jamille) took a bang to the head and we followed precautions, but he’s ok.”
And Edwards lauded the impact of Regan Hendry who came in for the injured Ben Stevenson: “Regan was outstanding and took his chance well. We’ve got good players to come in when players go out through injury.”
Edwards was disappointed with Pools’ equaliser: “We didn’t deal well with the goal, it was a scruffy one to concede, but we had chances, one hit the woodwork and Kasey McAteer had a chance at the end.”
Firmly in the saddle, Rovers took the reins from the get-go. Baily Cargill fluffed his lines with a free header from a Nicky Cadden free-kick and then Hartlepool keeper Ben Killip did well to glove a towering Ebou Adams’ cross over the bar. Rovers were dealt a blow when Matt pulled up in the 15th minute after an earlier clash of heads with Pools’ defender Timi Odusina.
Tom Crawford, who signed a two-year contract extension on Friday, should have nosed Hartlepool ahead on 30 minutes, but he flashed wide with just Luke McGee to beat.
Killip kept the game at deadlock – saving smartly from Rovers’ Jack Aitchison and Josh March.
Hendry broke the stalemate on 53 minutes, fizzing in an exquisite half-volley beyond Killip.
Hartlepool netted parity when they caught Rovers on the counter – Bogle firing under McGee with 21 minutes to go.
March saw his header turned on to the bar by Killip and Hendry went close as Rovers turned the screw.
Both sides had opportunities to win the game deep into stoppage-time – Grey missing the target for Hartlepool and McAteer spanking over.
Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Sweeney, Cargill, Adams, Aitchison (Young ‘77), Cadden, Matt © (McAteer ‘15), Moore-Taylor, Hendry, March Subs: Thomas, Bernard, Allen, Diallo, Bunker
Hartlepool: Killip, Sterry, Byrne, Liddle ©, Odusina, Ferguson, Morris, Shelton (White ‘69), Crawford, Carver (Grey ‘81), Bogle (Fletcher ‘90) Subs: Bilokapic, Ogle, Featherstone, Smith Yellow – Morris (66), Aitchison (75) Attendance: 3,023 (235 Hartlepool)
Star Man: Ebou Adams
Next up: Forest Green travel to Phil Brown’s Barrow on Friday.