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Apr 30

Tamworth 2 – 1 Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers secured a fourteenth consecutive season of Conference football in one of the Black and Whites tightest ever finishes, staying up on goal difference after losing to Tamworth at The Lamb, writes Richard Joyce.
A helping hand from Kettering, who Rovers dumped out of the Conference back in 2000, ensured Rovers continued their incredible run in the top flight of non league football as the Poppies fired in two late goals against Southport to ensure Rovers stayed up on goal difference.
In a game where Forest Green needed just to draw the visitors got off to the worse possible start in the opening minutes as Christian Smith hammered the ball in from close range to give the hosts a much needed lift – The Lambs themselves needed points on the board to secure their league status.
A nervy Forest Green response saw Kieron Forbes jolty run end with a disappointing finish and Reece Styche saw his effort on goal go wide as well.
Rovers chased a goal on a hard dusty pitch and Curtis McDonald had Rovers best chance of the first half as some rare excellent build up play led to him steering his side footed effort over the crossbar of young Louis Connor in the Kettering goal.
Rovers boss Dave Hockaday replaced top scorer Reece Styche at half time with Newport loanee, Robbie Matthews, and the tall front man nodded down for Chris Allen to fire over early in the second half.
The goal Forest Green desperately needed was secured however in the 52nd minute as Matt Somner, playing his final game for Rovers, managed to smash in from close range to even things up and to leave a tense smile on the faces of the 402 travelling Forest Green supporters.
Both sides had chances to take the lead with Kyle Perry having an effort that sprayed across the face of the Rovers goal and Matthews heading straight in to Connors arms at the other end.
It was the 77th minute however that sent the home supporters in to a fit of pleasure as former Notts County midfielder, Jake Sheridan, saw his long dipping cross sail over Rovers keeper James Bittner and straight in to the top corner. The Rovers number one, who was awarded with the Supporters Player of the Season trophy on Monday, could do nothing about the unexpected style of delivery.
Rovers Blue Square Bet Premier status was quickly drifting away and the chase was on to try and find a goal. Gavin Caines hit a free kick wide in the 86th minute as news arrived on the terraces of the change of events at Rockingham Road as Kettering took the lead against Southport, confirming that Rovers would stay up on goal difference.
As referee Stephen Martin blew the final whistle, both sets of supporters and players joined together on the pitch to celebrate survival and confirmed entry in to the Blue Square Bet Premier for the 2011/12 season – ending another season of drama for Forest Green Rovers.

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