NEW season, same dependability from Forest Green’s most
Alex Lawless was Rovers’ hero in more ways than one at the
A-Line Stadium, filling in for the injured Kris Thomas at
right-back and grabbing a deserved 77th-minute leveller against
Jim Harvey’s men were ragged around the edges at times, and
he will be hoping the more jittery moments were down to
But their measured response to John Dempster’s goal from a
corner on 14 minutes was highly encouraging, a sign of growing
maturity within the squad.
Blue Square North champions last season, Kettering roared
out of the blocks and capitalised on a disjointed start from
Indeed, Rovers nearly contributed to their own
downfall four minutes before conceding when Darren Jones was
caught badly in possession on the edge of the area by Chris
The frontman slid the ball left for Gareth Seddon on the
edge of the penalty area and he forced a parry from Ryan
Moments later Alfie Potter burst clear on the right flank
and whipped in a cross that fell perfectly for Owain Warlow
five yards out, whose shot was superbly blocked by
The former Morecambe stopper was looking keen to justify his
reinstatement as first choice, but he must take his share of
the blame for allowing Warlow’s corner to drift over his
flailing glove and enabling Dempster to power a header
Having been second to every 50-50, Rovers suddenly had a
rescue act to perform and needed to shift up a couple of
They also had to come to terms with Poppies defender Exodus
Geohaghon, whose huge throw-ins were tougher to contend with
than pronunciation of his surname.
Such tactics are not the Harvey way, and the visitors set
about repairing the situation by stringing passes together and
They were almost rewarded six minutes before the
Andy Mangan got the faintest flick to Lawless’ cross and
Dempster’s deflection forced home goalkeeper Lee Harper to turn
the ball on to the post in athletic fashion.
Mangan was one of three starters making their competitive
debuts for the club, worrying the Kettering defence with his
tireless running off the ball but failing to fashion any
Playing in the Rigoglioso role behind the main striker, Kaid
Mohamed struggled initially to impose himself on the game but
was a threat from wider areas in the second half.
Lee Fowler was the most impressive of the trio, rarely
wasting possession in the middle of the park, while substitute
debutants Conal Platt and Curtis McDonald each had a hand in
Rovers’ overall improvement.
Less convincing was Robinson, who looked nervy whenever the
ball was at his feet and remains some way short of the
impressive form he showed during his first season at the New
The equaliser was a triumph for quick thinking, Lawless
latching on to Mohamed’s short corner and unleashing a
cross-shot from 25 yards which flew past Harper into the far
It heralded a harum-scarum conclusion to the match, as first
Mangan raced onto McDonald’s through-ball and saw his effort
clutched by Harper at the near post.
Lawless then touched a short free-kick to Platt, whose
angled drive from the edge of the area was deflected a couple
of feet wide.
Two efforts from Andre Boucaud in stoppage time had hearts
in mouths at the other end, and Robinson was grateful for
Lawless’ frantic clearance after failing to hold a long-range
Kettering Town: L. Harper; J. Dempster, G. Branston, E.
Geohaghon, T. Jasczun; A. Potter (D. Taylor 68), D. Wrack, B.
Solkhon, O. Warlow; G. Seddon (A. Boucaud 75), C. Beardsley
(J-P Marna 60); Subs not used: L. Graham, S. Dorrill.
Forest Green: R. Robinson; A. Lawless, D. Jones, J.
Hardiker, P. Stonehouse (C. McDonald 58); L. Afful, J. Pitman
(C. Platt 50), L. Fowler (J. Smith 73), S. Clist; K. Mohamed;
A. Mangan; Subs not used: M. Preece, T. Burton. Referee: J.
Adcock (Long Eaton)
Star man: Alex Lawless – Reliable as ever in his less favoured
position, scoring one and laying on chances for others.