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Forest Green enjoy Trophy cruise

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: January 12, 2009

Andy Mangan battling for possession with Mark Rawle

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FOREST GREEN swatted away Blue Square North opponents like a pesky fly to secure a place in the third round of the FA Trophy.

Bloopers from Redditch goalkeeper Danny Lewis and defender Matty Clarke helped the professionals into a quickfire two-goal lead, and their ride became even easier against 10 men for most of the second half.

What followed was a glorified training exercise, as Adriano Rigoglioso completed a brace and substitutes Mike Symons and Conal Platt got on the scoresheet in a game delayed by 24 hours.

Yet Jim Harvey had not even been able to name a full 16-strong squad, with Curtis McDonald and Kaid Mohamed succumbing to flu and Alex Lawless not risked due to a hamstring niggle.

A severe shortage of bodies at the back saw Jerry Gill partnering Mark Preece at centre-half, with Chris Thomas recalled at right-back and long-term absentee Ben Ashford named on the bench despite being way short of full fitness.

Those problems were blown away inside 90 seconds, as Rigoglioso's skidding free-kick from a crossing angle went straight through the befuddled Lewis at the near post to give the hosts the lead.

Rigoglioso was attracting the ball like a magnet in the early stages, and he was unfortunate in the ninth minute when his volley from Lee Fowler's cross was blocked.

The underdogs seemed intent on contributing to their own downfall, Clarke surprisingly escaping a booking for a grappling manoeuvre on Andy Mangan which Hulk Hogan would have been proud of.

Clarke's luck ran out in spectacular fashion in the 24th minute. Les Afful did superbly to skip past two challengers and whip in a hanging cross, from which the hapless central defender powered a header into the top corner of his own net.

Cashing in on a lack of height in the Rovers rearguard looked Redditch's best course of action, but Terry Burton proved equal to a succession of inswinging corners towards the end of the first half.

Otherwise the goalkeeper was largely inactive, although Liam Murray connected well with a 25-yard effort that curled wide of the upright.

The visitors' cause became virtually impossible on 53 minutes when captain Lee Downes – cautioned earlier for an altercation with Thomas – crudely felled Jonathan Smith and was shown a second yellow card.

Now Rovers could really turn the screw, and Mangan was disappointed to shovel over at the near post after latching on to Rigoglioso's cross.

The third goal eventually came in the 62nd minute and was beautifully constructed, Afful again providing the delivery for Platt to chest down and Rigoglioso to strike into the bottom corner via a heavy deflection off Clarke.

Excellent work from Platt on the left then created a glorious opportunity for an unmarked Smith in front of goal, but the midfielder uncharacteristically screwed wide.

Hat-trick hunting Rigoglioso brought a good save from Lewis with a scorching drive from 30 yards, but the Scouser's name was being sung again by the Rockwool army when his cross teed up the simplest of headed goals for Symons on 78 minutes.

Two minutes later it was 5-0, Thomas swinging the ball over from the right for Platt to meet sweetly on the half-volley and smash into the bottom corner.

Forest Green: T. Burton; C. Thomas, J. Gill, M. Preece, P. Stonehouse; L. Afful, L. Fowler (C. Platt 60), J. Smith, S. Clist; A. Rigoglioso; A. Mangan (M. Symons 65); Subs not used: B. Ashford, R. Robinson.

Redditch United: D. Lewis; C. Dickenson, M. Clarke, L. Murray, A. Charlton; O. Story, J. Smith, L. Downes, D. Whitcombe (S. Hollis 16); M. Rawles, A. Babayo; Subs not used: A. Daniels, B. Bullimore, C. Heggs, R. Softley.

Referee: R. Lewis (Shrewsbury)

Attendance: 441

Star man: Adriano Rigoglioso

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    chris, stroud  |  January 12 2009, 5:44PM

    Jim Harvey could not have expected so many pluses from a game like this albeit against lesser league opposition. Celi is a superb player when he turns it on and ceases the more usual bickering with refs. Preece was commanding in front of Terry Burton. Conal Platt only had the second half to impress but ripped Redditch apart. And lee Fowler, Simon Clist and the tireless Paul Stonehouse were dominant. Suddenly, with Jonah taking an enforced (but maybe fortuitous break) but Hardiker and Ashford getting closer too fitness, Rovers are beginning to look in confident mood. Heaven knows how many home cup games we've had in the last 2 months but at least they've restored winning ways. Any spectator worked out why Smithy was booked for being fouled then flattened by the crude Downes? Downes must have had 3 near misses before being deservedly red carded