It took a dodgy goal for the Harriers to beat Forest Green Rovers in this return game today. We played at The Lawns on Boxing Day and came back with a hard earned 2-2 draw but today's game was totally different with the Reds looking jaded and lacking in creative ideas to really convince the floating fan that this was a side looking to reach the play offs this season.
We had just the one change to the starting line-up at Forest Green with Iyseden Christie dropping to the bench to allow Justin Richards to start. Also on there was Jeff Kenna, who played at Oxford on Saturday but went back to the bench for this one, and Stuart Whitehead coming back from his two game suspension.
For the first twenty minutes of the game the home side just didn't get a look in. Forest Green were doing most of the running but without getting a clear cut chance on goal themselves. The one good point was that we were limiting Forest Green to long balls over the top to their leading scorer, Stuart Fleetwood, and his failure to get on the end of these, thanks to a solid Mark Creighton, must have been putting off the scouts in attendance.
It wasn't just Fleetwood not seeing much of the ball, our own leading scorer James Constable wasn't getting much luck either.
The visitors had the first shot on target in the fourteenth minute when Mark Beesley, also being watched by other clubs, managed to hit the post. Soon after we picked up our first booking of the game when Andy Ferrell went into the petty referee's book for a run of the mill tackle on Paul Stonehouse. This adds to his fifth booking picked up in the Boxing Day game for which he'll miss the trip to York City next week.
It took until half a hour into the game before we had our first real sight of goal when Michael McGrath sent a shot flying across the face of the goal but not quite close enough to go in. It took another fifteen minutes for the same player to get the next chance for the Harriers when the ball was played on for him following a back header from Constable. His strong shot could only be pushed away by Ryan Robinson and the loose ball came to nothing.
The half drew to a close after watching one of the most tedious displays from two sides in ages. Not exactly festive fun from two sides determined to cancel each other out.