Forest Green Rovers 0
Not for the first time this season, Forest Green failed their big screen test as they crashed to defeat at Southport, writes Richard Joyce.
Live in front of the BT Sport cameras, Rovers continued their television hoodoo, but Ady Pennock’s side can be allowed some sympathy after a second-half thunderstorm called into question whether the game should have been abandoned.
Rain lashed down all evening with the pitch becoming largely unplayable in places in the game’s final 20 minutes.
However, this didn’t stop lowly Southport from recording a vitally important three points in their continued battle to avoid the drop, although it slightly dented Rovers’ Skrill Premier play-off chances too.
Karl Ledsham had headed the Sandgrounders into an early second-half lead, and James Norwood hit the bar for Forest Green shortly after.
But the game was wrapped up thanks to a classy strike from Republic of Ireland Under-21 international John O’Sullivan.
Rovers started well with Lee Hughes and Luke Rodgers both spurning chances as they lined up together as a partnership for the first time.
Sam Russell was called upon to make a key stop to deny O’Sullivan who was clear on goal on 34 minutes, while the Rovers shot stopper then kept Aristote Nsiala out with a smothered save seconds later.
The home side launched themselves into a critical early second-half lead as conditions worsened massively in the second 45 minutes.
O’Sullivan’s pin-point cross from the right was met by Ledsham who thundered a header, similar to scenes in the skies above, into the back of the net.
Norwood then had Rovers’ biggest chance to restore parity minutes later when Hughes’ outstanding through-ball fell into the path of the England C man, who chipped his final effort against the crossbar – only to fail to despatch a follow-up header too.
The hosts pushed on and sealed their victory just past the hour mark with an unstoppable strike.
Livewire O’Sullivan powered down the right and cannoned a terrific strike past the outreached Russell to double the hosts’ lead.
Former Cheltenham Town man Scott Brown tried to add a third, only to be foiled by Russell, as the surface continued to deteriorate excessively in the closing stages.
As a result Rovers struggled to force their way back into the tie, and apart from two late opportunities from Yan Klukowski and Danny Wright, Southport held on to leave Rovers discontented.
SOUTHPORT: D Hurst, D Fitzpatrick, L George, A Nsiala, S Brown (J Dillon 87), O Osawe, V Mukendi, K Daly, K Ledsham, D Hattersley (E Monthe 68), J O’Sullivan (C Joyce 70).Subs not used: M Henry-Francis, M Challoner.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS: S Russell, J Turley, C Stokes, A Racine, E Oshodi, A Barry (Y Klukowski 64), A Bangura, P Green, J Norwood (M Taylor 74), L Hughes, L Rodgers (D Wright 64). Subs not used: P White, J Hodgkiss.
REFEREE: Adrian Holmes (West Yorkshire)
STAR MAN: Paul Green – playing out of position on the left side of midfield, he was one of Rovers' brightest contributors.