FOREST Green Rovers secured their first victory of 2012 with a massive confidence boosting victory which knocked visitors Wrexham off the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier table, writes Richard Joyce.
The North Wales side were the first of the division’s top two sides to visit The New Lawn in the space of five days and were blown away by a Rovers side desperate to find the back of the net having recently struggled for goals in a night of great entertainment for the watching supporters.
Matt Taylor was unlucky to miss out on an early opportunity for the hosts and Kieron Forbes advancing forward hit a shot well wide of the target in the opening exchanges which saw Wrexham muster a few dangerous corners.
Rovers Trinidad & Tobago international Jake Thomson then curled a right footed strike inches wide of Joslain Mayebi’s post as Rovers inched closer to finding the back of the net.
Goalkeeper Sam Russell, who was making his home debut following his January transfer window move from Darlington, then pulled off a spectacular save to ensure the scores stayed level.
The Middlesbrough born keeper got down low from a point blank range effort from the boot of Mathias Pogba to deny the Wrexham attacker with a marvellous one handed stop.
James Norwood attempted to find the back of the net with a long range effort Mayebi was equal to and Thomson again tried his luck but both sides entered the half time break all level and goalless.
It was Rovers though who would grab the game’s only goal early on in the second period as Taylor secured a confidence boosting goal in the 48th minute.
The former North Leigh front man perfectly knocked in a powerfully struck Norwood ball in to the box to leave Mayebi stranded and to hand Forest Green an early second half lead.
Instead of resting on their laurels, Forest Green were quick to kick on and continue their raft of attempts on the Wrexham goal as on-loan forward Liam Henderson and the pacey Forbes tried their luck.
Adrian Cieslewicz then reminded Rovers supporters of Wrexham’s involvement in the evening’s affair when the former Poland under 19 international thumped a magnificent long distance effort against the Rovers crossbar.
Wrexham keeper Mayebi then pulled off another of many great saves to deny Henderson from distance as the Cameroonian proved why he has earned his place as Wrexham’s number one since arriving at the club in late 2011.
A manic scramble in the box with the clock ticking on normal time led to a mixture of desperate defending and excellent goalkeeping by Sam Russell to ensure Rovers kept their lead intact.
Although it was all very nearly broken with just a minute left on the clock in second half additional time as Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell was brought down in the box and the away side were awarded a spot kick.
Skipper Dean Keates stepped up to take it but the former Walsall man was denied by the outstretched legs of former Wrexham goalkeeper Russell who ensured Forest Green earned a fantastic win on a night of true entertainment at The New Lawn.
FGR:- Russell, Hodgkiss, Stokes, Turley, Oshodi, Forbes (Allen 72), Thomson, Klukowski, Norwood (Griffin 88), Taylor (Uwezu 80), Henderson [Subs not used: Bittner, Graham]
WREXHAM:- Mayebi, Obeng, Ashton, Creighton, Knight-Percival, Harris, Cieslewicz, Keates, Clarke (Hunt 68), Morrell, Pogba (Little 55, Colbeck 71) [Subs not used: Maxwell, Anorllo]
Referee: Rob Merchant