Forest Green Rovers 0-0 Stevenage: Battling Boro gain hard-fought point at New Lawn
PUBLISHED: 22:04 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 22:27 21 August 2018
A battling performance by a resolute Stevenage side earned a hard-fought point in a 0-0 draw against Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday evening. Read on for Layth Yousif's match report.
Stevenage travelled to the rolling hills of the west county to take on Forest Green Rovers in third against fifth in League Two prior to kick-off.
Boro started with the veteran Ronnie Henry as the left-sided centre-half alongside the giant Scot Cuthbert after Ben Nugent was benched.
Ben Kennedy returned after the birth of his first child as the visitors looked to build on their good start to the season with two wins and a draw from their first three matches in the fourth tier.
Forest Green continued their unbeaten start to the season as Mark Cooper’s side drew 1-1 with Bury at Gigg Lane.
Christian Doidge’s 29th minute goal looked to set Rovers on their way to all three points until former Blackpool defender Will Aimson’s struck in the last seconds of thee match.
A full-blooded first half, high on endeavour but little end product saw Maamria visibly frustrated after a series of full-blooded challenges that were deemed acceptable by referee Brett Huxtable.
Apart from a Ben Kennedy shot and a Johnny Hunt drive Boro troubled home keeper Robert Sanchez little, even if they started brightly.
The home side’s best effort in the opening 45 minutes was a rasping low drive from the Green Devils’ Reuben Reid, following a cross from Theo Archibald on the half hour flew narrowly past Paul Farman’s right hand post.
Boro fans, players and officials received a warm welcome off-the-pitch visiting the country’s only completely vegan football club.
Chairman Dale Vince insists on no meat, fish or animal products of any kind – even the wine and beer is vegan.
Forest Green also have an organic pitch fertilised with Scottish seaweed in a bid to make the club sustainable.
They also recycle their water and have a solar powered lawnmower.
Boss Maamria was full of praise for the principles before the game, while cautioning his men about Mark Cooper’s side’s approach, which as always is to blitz the opposition with a powerful possession game.
Cooper’s side were true to form as they dominated the first half but were unable to break the deadlock as the Boro backline held on, and when Huxtable blew for half time it was the men from North Herts who were the happiest.
The fayre dished up at New Lawn on the pitch may have been satisfying for the fans, but the mouth-watering food on offer in the smart new main stand would have pleased the non-vegetarian palate as much as vegans.
The move has proved popular as sales have more than quadrupled.
The ethos from the former New Age traveller turned millionaire, Dale, is also credited with helping the side gain promotion to the football league in 2017, after 128 years, due to a vegan diet which is said to aid soft tissue injuries.
Thankfully there were no injury issues at the break as both sides came out determined to win the match.
The creative James Ball, who already has two goals this season, nearly scored a third from a free-kick just outside the box but Sanchez was equal to the former Stockport man’s powerful curler as he acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.
Ball, who scored an excellent goal at Norwich last week in the first round of the Carabao Cup during their 3-1 defeat, is fast gaining a reputation as a dead ball specialist.
The home side again dominated proceedings with their athletic play and good movement on and off the ball, but the resolute Boro backline refused to buckle at the onslaught.
Just after the hour mark the lively Archibald aimed a swerving drive at Farman, who showed good reflexes in tipping the ball over the ball.
Alex Reid had a header cleared off the line by Doidge with 12 minutes remaining but the Green Devils should have gone ahead after a flowing move.
Right-back Liam Shephard powered down the flank before crossing firmly for substitute George Williams in the box – who headed over when well-placed, much to the disappointment of the home support in a crowd of 1,834, which included 102 hardy fans from Stevenage as battling Boro held on for a well-deserved point.