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Rovers make disappointing start at home

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: August 13, 2008

Forest Green Rovers lost their opening home game of the season to Salisbury City last night

Rovers' keeper Ryan Robinson reacts to conceding a goal to Salisbury City last night

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MORE shoddy defending from set-pieces made it a disappointing night for Forest Green in their first home game of the new campaign.

Darrell Clarke netted twice from corners to seal a deserved win for the Whites, the third goal Rovers have conceded from the flagsticks already this season.

Andy Mangan's first competitive strike in a black and white shirt was the only bright spot for Jim Harvey, whose side left it too late to slip into top gear.

Harvey made several tweaks to Saturday's team at Kettering, shifting Darren Jones from central defence to right-back in order to push Alex Lawless forward into his favoured midfield role.

Left-back Paul Stonehouse paid the price for a shaky game at Rockingham Road, losing his place to Curtis McDonald, with Kaid Mohamed and Simon Clist asked to provide the main support to lone frontman Mangan.

The opening stages rather reflected the disappointingly flat atmosphere, neither side threatening until former Forest Green youth team player Andy Sandell turned sharply inside the area and saw a deflected shot fly wide on 18 minutes.

It was from the resulting corner that the visitors opened the scoring, Tim Bond rising highest to meet Liam Feeney's corner and heading the ball across for Aaron Cook to flick on and Clarke to nod home from close range.

The hosts persisted with their normal patient approach, and there were groans from the Rockwool Terrace in the 29th minute when Mangan could only fire tamely at keeper James Bittner after wriggling clear.

A ball over the top from Jones created another opening for Rovers' new number nine, who controlled superbly with his thigh but blazed over at the near post.

The second goal came three minutes after the break thanks to more dithery defending, as Clarke was afforded far too much time to size up Feeney's delivery and produced an overhead kick that looped almost apologetically beyond the stranded Ryan Robinson.

Salisbury could have put the game out of sight in the immediate aftermath, as first Sandell fed Matt Tubbs for a low shot that came back off the post and was scrambled to safety by Jones.

Seconds later Tubbs waltzed through the middle of a shellshocked defence and was only foiled by a fine save by Robinson.

Finally the home side woke up, Mangan crossing low from the left for Clist to dummy and Les Afful to poke a deflected effort wide within seconds of his arrival as a substitute.

It was 2-1 in the 57th minute via a brilliant defence-splitting pass by Lawless, which enabled Mangan to look up and finish coolly past the advancing Bittner.

Still Salisbury threatened at the other end, Clarke's deep cross evading Robinson before Feeney blasted into the night sky.

And substitute Robbie Matthews came within inches of settling the contest in spectacular fashion, crashing a shot against the underside of Robinson's crossbar from 25 yards.

Rovers could have snatched a point at the death when Clist's fine cross was headed against the frame of the goal by John Hardiker, and Bittner did well to tip Stonehouse's drive onto the post.

Forest Green: R. Robinson; D. Jones, M. Preece (J. Smith 53), J. Hardiker, C. McDonald; A. Lawless, J. Pitman (L. Afful 53), L. Fowler (P. Stonehouse 69), K. Mohamed; S. Clist; A. Mangan; Subs not used: A. Rigoglioso, T. Burton.

Salisbury City: J. Bittner; J. Bass, A. Cook, T. Bond, S. Bartlett; D. Clarke (C. Griffin 87), W. Turk, I. Herring, L. Feeney; M. Tubbs (R. Matthews 72), A. Sandell; Subs not used: J. Davies, D. Sangare, T. Widdrington.

Referee: M. McLaughlin (Beds)

Attendance: 927 Star man: Simon Clist

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