Forest Green 2-2 Tranmere: Report

Tranmere twice came from behind to grab a vital draw with table topping Forest Green in a thrilling match at The New Lawn.

Goals from Lois Maynard and James Norwood, against his former club, saw Rovers sneak a point in a game that swung from end to end and could have ended 5-5.

In truth, the visitors should have been well behind at the break, but for some poor finishing and an in form Scott Davies.

But they improved massively after the break, and this time it was the hosts who had their goalkeeper to thank for ensuring the game ended level.

Micky Mellon made three changes to the Tranmere side that won at Braintree on Saturday, two of them enforced as Jay Harris and Lee Vaughan missed out through suspension.

That meant Lois Maynard and Michael Ihiekwe returned to the starting line up, whilst Ben Tollitt, back from a one match ban, replaced Adam Dawson.

Rovers went into the game not only looking to extend an unbeaten run of six league games but also knowing a win would leave them just three points off top spot.

But they made the worst possible start in a frantic opening few minutes as Forest Green took an early lead.

The hosts were pressing down their right, with captain Liam Noble picking out a pass that split the Tranmere defence as it angled across goal.

Scott Davies did not know whether or not to come for it, and his hesitancy allowed Christian Doidge to pounce and bundle the ball home.

The visitors hit back immediately though, with a towering header from Maynard equalising just two minutes later.

He rose highest in the box to nod home Liam Ridehalgh’s cross after the left-back had intelligently come short for a corner.

After that though, Forest Green piled on the pressure, with men streaming forward at every opportunity.

They overloaded the Rovers backline at times, and the likes of Steve McNulty and Richie Sutton were often outnumbered, if not outwitted, by the quick, neat interplay.

The hosts had several more chances, but kept finding Davies in their way.

He made a hat-trick of saves from Keanu Marsh-Brown, with the second certainly the pick as he sprawled to his right to tip a curling effort to safety after the ball had thumped back off the post.

A second goal looked like it was coming though, and so it proved as Noble, a former Sunderland youth player, deliciously curled home from 22-yards.

The midfielder was afforded time and space outside the box, and that gave him the chance to pick his spot as he caresses the ball into the top corner, leaving Davies with no chance.

It was no more than Mark Cooper’s side deserved, and although they did not create too many more chances before half-time as the dominated possession.

They were toyed with the visiting defence, who passed the ball around almost arrogantly and made Rovers chase the game and burn up plenty of energy in the process.

At the other end, Noble had a chance to double the lead shortly before the break, turning 30-yards from goal before hammering just wide of the post.

The 15 minute interval game Tranmere a chance to take stock though, and they were much more solid in the second period.

James Norwood was introduced to a chorus of boos by his former supporters on the hour mark, and he made an immediate impact.

The striker first created a chance for Andy Mangan, whose shot dribbled just wide from the edge of the box.

Shortly afterwards, the roles were reversed, Norwood was left celebrating wildly as he slotted home confidently to level the scores.

The goal came from a terrible error, with Daniel Wishart slapping a ball loosely across field and into danger.

It was collected by Mangan, who did well to control before putting the ball on a plate for Norwood to slot past the on-rushing ‘keeper.

That left Forest Green rattled, but they should have retaken the lead minutes later when Marsh-Brown hit the post with the goal gaping in front of him.

Doidge then missed another sitter, somehow fumbling wide at the back post after a cross had taken Davies out of the game.

After that, the game started to go Tranmere’s way. They had momentum and looked to take advantage of a tiring defence.

Tollitt had a go, skipping past one tackle before firing wide from 25-yards.

Mangan then got a shooting opportunity, found by Ridehalgh, but he too failed to find the target, instead hitting the roof of the stand behind the goal.

The chances kept on coming as the game entered the final few minutes, with Kirby the next to feed Mangan, though his shot was blocked for a corner.

Norwood then found space from a deep, looped Maynard cross and this time the ‘keeper was called into action, diving low to his right to palm clear.

Then with the final chance of the game, Mangan saw his shot palmed over after running on to a through ball from Hughes.

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