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Forest Green Rovers 2 Harriers 1

Date: 10-02-07 Venue: The New Lawn att: 1211 away fans: 180 approx
If the mud don't beat you the referee will
The Harriers brilliant winning run finally came to an end today when we lost 2-1 at our bogey side, Forest Green.    We knew that we had to lose at some point but when it comes down to the result being decided by blatantly amateurish refereeing then it makes it a bitter pill to swallow.

Mr Andrew Hendley was given charge of our FA Cup game against Droylsden late last year and made a mockery of that, although he was helped in his quest by a thuggish Droylsden side.    Today it seemed that he felt that he needed redress the balance and this time he made us the victims of his in-competence.

The pitch was a quagmire so a bit of leniency is required when players go into a challenge.    What might look dangerous in mud would look run of the mill in good conditions and so it was today when he booked Andy White for an innocuous tackle in the first half.

In the second period of play Whitey fell over in the sticky conditions, a Forest Green player jumped over him to avoid him and the idiot gives a free kick in their favour??

On two occasions the lines lady on the far side of the ground flagged for offside but the referee, no where near to being in line with the offence waves play on.    In cases of offside the linesman decision must be abided by because that is why they are there.    The referee has no reason to dispute their decision.

It seems that in the end the lino gave up flagging for offside, knowing that it would get ignored and the home side end up scoring the winner from a blatant offside.

There are numerous other reasons why the referee should be hung, drawn and quartered by the FA but I haven't got time to list them all now, save to say that the defeat today can be lain firmly on the shoulders of Mr Andrew Hendley.

This game was in danger of being called off because of the amount of snow covering the pitch after recent heavy snowfall so full marks to the FGR fans that cleared the snow off this morning to allow the game to go ahead.

We started without Iyseden Christie and Gavin Hurren again with Jeff Kenna also joining them in the stand to watch the game.    In Jeff's place came Brian Smikle with Andy White covering for Christie again and Jake Sedgemore covering for Hurren.

Despite the poor conditions underfoot the game got off to a brisk start with the Harriers taking charge straight away.    We had calls for a penalty turned down when John Hardiker slipped over in the box just as a shot was coming in from James Constable.    The ball hit his arm as he lay on the floor and I thought it would have been rough justice if it had been given.

With the ball sticking in the mud it was hard for either side to set up any flowing moves but we did see some good cross field passing although it wasn't so productive when it came to trying to run with the ball or to play a close pass.

On twenty three minutes the Harriers went into the lead with a free kick from a foul on Andy White.    With the ball placed on the edge of the area, Jonny Harkness waited for the Forest Green wall to sort them selves out before unleashing one of his specials that curled around the wall and into the corner of the net just out of reach of the keeper.

Russ Penn was booked just after the goal, his eleventh of the season, following a foul on John Brough on the halfway line.

When FGR did get a chance to mount a raid on the Harriers goal their chances were limited to efforts from Danny Williams and Danny Carey-Bertram that both got kept out by some solid Harriers defending.

The teams went off for a well earned break and a change out of their muddy strip.    The Rovers groundstaff forked over the goal mouth that the home side would be playing towards in the second half but didn't bother going up the other end of the pitch to help out our chance of scoring.
HT: 0 - 1
The Harriers came out for the second half with the intention of finishing the job off instead of sitting on their slender lead.    Simon Russell was the first to probe Ryan Robinsons goal with a curling shot that forced the keeper to save well.

We also had numerous corners, that we failed to take advantage of, as Constable glanced one wide and then Andy White took aim from twenty yards out with a powerful shot that stung the keepers hands.    He also had another strike that flashed just wide after being set up by Russell.

We should really have doubled our lead just after when James Constables shot came back off the post and fell perfectly for Andy White to lift the ball over the fallen keeper but instead he shot it straight at his legs and the ball was gathered up by Robinson.

That marked the end of our dominance and the Rovers manager, Jim Harvey, made a couple of changes by bringing on Les Afful for Carey-Bertram and soon after Shaun Lamb for Kevin Nicholson.    From that point on the home side came back into the game, with a little help from their tame officials.

Rovers drew level on seventy two minutes following a mix up between Scott Bevan and Brian Smikle that allowed Adrian Rigoglioso to get between them and fire the ball home.

To counter that we bought on Luke Reynolds in place of Andy White and almost straight away Reynolds came close to scoring.    Jonny Harkness put a deep cross over to the far post for the lurking Reynolds to head home but somehow the keeper managed to get to it and tip the ball around the post.

On eighty five minutes Forest Green took the lead with a totally offside goal.    Rigoglioso was clearly offside and signalled to the ref that he wasn't interfering with play as Afful raced through a static Harriers defence, waiting for the flag or the whistle to come.    It never did though and as Afful went on towards goal Rigoglioso suddenly appeared alongside him to drive the ball home.

One minute he claims he's not offside but still goes on to finish the move off.    Rigoglioso? you're just a big a cheat as your mate Hendley.

We couldn't recover from that blow and even when Russell sent in a brilliant cross over the face of the goal no-one could get a touch on it.

The game drew to a close soon after and the home fans celebrated as if they had just won the Gloucester Senior Cup.    We trooped out feeling robbed by some poor officiating.
FT: 2 - 1

 Goals for Forest Green: Rigoglioso 72, 85
 Goal for Harriers: Harkness 23

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Forest Green  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Robinson     Bevan  
Beesley     Smikle  
Nicholson     Harkness  
Jones     Sedgemore  
Williams     Creighton  
Pitman     Whitehead  
Carey-Bertram     Russell  
Clist     Penn gif
Rigoglioso gif   White gif
Brough gif   Constable  
Hardiker     Blackwood  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Harrison     S Taylor  
Afful     Eaton  
Wanless     Reynolds  
Lamb gif   Hurren  
Sheehan     McGrath  

Mr A Hendley
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