Manager Leon Sterling said that he was very proud of his side after they put on a superb battling performance against what was effectively the majority of Forest Green Rovers first team at Wisloe Road this evening. Although Rovers left with a 2 goal victory, it was only sealed in the 85th minute when Magno Viera added to Jamie Turley’s second half strike to clinch the game for the visitors.
‘I was really pleased that we got the ball and tried to play’ Leon said afterwards. ‘Fitness showed itself in the last half hour, but I think the performance I’ve seen tonight bodes well for the new season. We worked hard and I was very proud of the lads tonight.’
The first half was dominated by Forest Green, but a combination of their failure to take changes and some superb defending and great workrate from the Swans saw the game goalless after 45 minutes.
With eight minutes on the clock, Rovers had the first real chance of the game, and Swans’ Keeper Dave Evans had to be alert to palm a snap shot over his bar.
Forest Green had a gilt edged opportunity to take the lead on 14 minutes – Reece Styche’s nifty turn fooled Jamie Inch, and the defenders mistimed tackle saw a penalty awarded by Referee Anthony Coggins, who had an impressive game throughout. Jan Klukowski’s shot was low to Evans’ left, and the Slimbridge made a good stop to push the ball for a corner.
The home side responded well, and Sam Russell did well to turn away a Freddy Ward free kick on 17 minutes, after Alex Higgs was brought down on a surging run towards the Forest Green box.
A minute later, another chance went begging for the visitors – Styche and Klukowski combined superbly to see Klukowski through on goal, but again Evans flung himself to his left and made a superb stop as the big man sought to make amends for his penalty miss.
There then followed a period of play when it was very much ‘backs to the wall’ for the home side, with Hodgkiss and the very impressive Koroma combining down the Forest Green right flank to set up Magno Viera, but his shot was wide, and the Swans survived.
Still the chances came for Forest Green, with Klukowski and Koroma both going close, but it was not all one way – Chris Fower’s neat run was halted by a well timed tackle, and Speers’ header from a Ward Free Kick brought a good save from Russell on 33 minutes.
Again, the visitors pressed, with Speers and Inch particularly impressive in a Swans back four who all made magnificent contributions to the game. Viera had the best chance of the remaining minutes, but a superb block from Inch maintained equality.
Two minutes before the interval, Styche turned home a Hodgkiss cross, but was ruled offside to leave the game scoreless at the break.
Forest Green finally made the breakthrough seven minutes into the second period, when Jamie Turley headed home a Viera corner to give the visitors the lead, following two more misses from Viera and Keiron Forbes.
In a second half with far fewer chances, it took the visitors until the 85th minute to double the score – a pass from Ben Wright across the Swans goal found the net courtesy of Magno Viera and Will Wellon, with the official goalscorer being credited as Viera.
The final whistle saw some very complimentary comments fromDave Hockaday about the test his side had just been given, and gave the Swans a good boost ahead of the rest of their pre-season, which continues at home to Mangotsfield United on Thursday (7.45pm). The Swans then entertain Purton on Saturday (2.30pm)
Team: Evans, Anson, Wellon, Inch, Speers, Ward, Turner, Harding, Fower, Higgs, Holloway. Subs used : Nash, O’Connor, Martin