Forest Green Rovers 1 Colchester United 2: Drey Wright nets inside 20 seconds as U’s win again
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Forest Green Rovers 1 Colchester United 2
Drey Wright and Ben Stevenson scored early in each half as Colchester United recorded a third win on the bounce, at lowly Forest Green Rovers this afternoon.
Following on from their 1-0 away success at Stevenage, and 2-1 home win over Luton on Good Friday, the U’s completed a hat-trick with a deserved victory on their first-ever visit to The New Lawn, in the Cotswolds.
The U’s grabbed the lead after just 19 seconds, Wright steering home only his second goal of the season.
Mikael Mandron released Sammie Szmodics down the left flank and Wright bundled the ball home from point blank range at the far post.
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Forest Green Rovers were level before the break, thanks to Reuben Reid’s 37th minute penalty following Tom Eastman’s foul on rival centre-half Haydn Hollis in the box.
But just 85 seconds into the second half, midfielder Stevenson arrowed home a glorious 20-yard shot into the far corner of the net.
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It was Stevenson’s second goal in nine appearances, since his loan switch from Wolves on transfer deadline day.
It also proved to be the winner, so inching the U’s closer to an unlikely play-off berth.
Forest Green tried to respond quickly, to Wright’s early opener, and Mandron was back defending in his own penalty area to head away a goal-bound header by Reid, on three minutes.
The game then rather drifted towards the half-way mark in the first period, with both sides struggling to get grips with a heavy pitch
However, the visitors then squandered two great chances to double their lead, in quick succession.
Szmodics kick-started a good move down the U’s right, and then ventured into the penalty area to meet Wright’s cross with a thumping volley which flew narrowly over the bar.
Just 30 seconds later and Mandron was homing in on goal, only to drag his shot wide of the post with just keeper Bradley Collins to beat.
Rovers threatened from a 25th minute free-kick, Dayle Grubb’s delivery flying across goal and wide with Sam Walker watching it closely.
The hosts came close to an equaliser on the half-hour mark. Reid nodded on Gavin Gunning’s cross, but Tahvon Campbell’s instinctive header ballooned over the bar from point blank range.
A neat one-two between Szmodics and Mandron, on 34 minutes, ended with the former being fouled by Gavin Gunning, on the edge of the penalty area.
Centre-half Gunning was booked for the challenge, but Mandron’s effort from the ensuing free-kick lacked power and precision, and was easily cleared.
Forest Green grabbed their equaliser, via a 37th minute penalty.
Eastman misjudged a long ball into the box, delivered by Dan Wishart, and then fouled Hollis, while attempting to clear his lines.
Referee Brett Huxtable pointed to the spot, and up stepped Reid to ram home the penalty, straight down the middle, with Walker having dived to his left.
The U’s were on the rack and Walker had to back-peddle to punch away an inswinging corner by Grubb, which was heading for the top corner of his net on 43 minutes.
Just as they had done at the start of the first half, so the U’s scored early in the second period.
Stevenson’s superb 20-yard shot, which was squeezed between keeper Collins and the far post, put the U’s 2-1 up on 47 minutes.
Rovers tried to respond quickly and Grubb had a goal-bound drive blocked in a crowded six-yard box, just before the 50-minute mark.
Only a goal-line clearance denied the U’s a third goal in the 70th minute. Mandron’s initial shot was charged down, and the follow-up from Wright was hacked off the line.
The U’s soaked up some late pressure, before almost adding a third, only for substitute Sean Murray to shoot straight at keeper Collins from close-in on 85 minutes.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS: B Collins, Bennett, Gunning, Hollis, Wishart, Bray (sub Laird, 73), Osbourne, L Collins (sub Brown, 78), Grubb, Campbell (sub Doidge, 56), Reid. Unused subs: Belford, Simpson, Cooper, Rawson.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Jackson, Eastman, Prosser, Vincent-Young, Comley, Stevenson, Wright (sub Murray, 78), Szmodics (sub Mandeville, 87), Senior (sub Shodipo, 69), Mandron. Unused subs: Barnes, Kent, Loft, Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Referee: Brett Huxtable (Devon)
Attendance: 2,886 (340 away fans)