Forest Green Rovers 2 Harriers 2
Venue: The New Lawn
away fans: 387
Cheating FGR can't stop nine man Harriers
The Harriers dragged a draw from the jaws of a terrible defeat, and some terrible refereeing, at Forest Green tonight when nine men got the better of the cheating Andrew Mangan when he dived to the floor after tapping Martin Riley's ankle and getting the young defender sent off.
Earlier the same fate had befallen Justin Richards when the former Harrier Lee Ayres took him out near the corner flag in a two footed tackle that almost broke the star strikers legs. Stupidly Justin got up and retaliated by sticking his head in Ayres face and getting an instant red card. The referee - the wonderfully and aptly named Mr Coote - simply handed Ayres a yellow card for a tackle that earned Stevenage's Danny Murphy a red card last Saturday.
How can anyone; player, manager or fan 'Respect the Ref' when brain dead idiots like Coote are placed in charge of a game of professional football. Even parks football is too good for such an inferior referee as him.
The game started off alright with Martin Brittain added to the starting line up in place of Darryl Knights. For the first twenty minutes of the game it was all Harriers and, although we were making hard work of it, it was only going to be a matter of time before we scored.
We'd already had one early chance go begging from Chris McPhee but when Matt Barnes-Homer broke through into the area and selflessly passed the ball back to Martin Brittain then Brit wasn't going to miss such a chance as that and sent the ball arrow like into the back of the net for the deserved opening goal.
We should have been two goals to the good but a perfectly good goal following a fair challenge by Barnes-Homer on a Forest defender was ruled out by the Coote.
Ten minutes later though Forest Green had drawn level after a ball was played over the top of the out of position Lee Baker for Mangan to run onto. He got into the area and despite getting robbed of the ball by Martin Riley he managed to reach it and push it over to the clearly offside Conal Platt who poked the ball home for the equaliser.
Just after that controversial goal came more controversy when the Richards/Ayres incident occurred.
Justin had run onto a ball played forward towards the corner flag by Brittain and just as he turned to cross it over Ayres came crashing through into him from a full five yards away and sent Richards flying into the air. Stupidly Richards didn't think it through and realise that a sane referee would send Ayres off for the tackle and instead got up and put his head into Ayres' face.
Ayres dropped like a Mangan even though it was unlikely there had been any real contact and so Richards had to walk. So should have Ayres but Coote obviously didn't know what he was doing and just booked him instead.
The incident incensed Mark Yates so much that he was warned by the Officials about his understandable anger at the poor refereeing.
HT: 1 - 1
Understandably now we were down to ten men - ironic considering how we thought that Murphy's dismissal for Stevenage and Greg Pearsons last night for Burton was a bonus for us - the second half was nearly all in FGR's favour.
They came at us straight away and to be honest we looked knackered. The former Hereford Striker David Brown missed two simple chances to score but sent them over the bar instead and Paul Stonehouse had a shot from long range easily held by Adam Bartlett.
We were crying out for a substitution with someone out there to help the lonely MBH but it was Forest Green that made the first change by taking off Paul Lloyd in exchange for Kaid Mohammed. The change didn't work because for the next twenty minutes neither side looked interested in breaking the deadlock although we did come close when Russ Penn got into a good shooting position and then lost control of the ball and allowed the defender to clear.
On seventy five minutes we made our first change with strangely Brian Smikle coming on in place of Brittain and then taking up the full back position to allow Lee Baker more freedom to get forward. Then came another inept decision from Coote that again lead to devastating results.
Russ Penn cleanly robbed Platt of the ball and the Rovers man didn't even fall or stagger yet Coote gave them a free kick for the non-incident. From the free kick the ball was sent over to the cheat who rose highest to head the ball home and give FGR an undeserved lead.
Mark Yates then made his feelings known to Coote and earned himself a red card too and instructions to leave the side of the pitch. Mark went and stood on the terracing with two 'heavies' stood in front of him.
Coote hadn't finished there because within seconds he had booked Martin Riley for a nothing contact on one of their players but then Riley found himself sent off when the cheating Mangan vied with him for a ball on the edge of the area and suddenly dropped like a stone after tapping Riley's ankle.
He got up straight away and walked away laughing as his new best mate took out first another yellow card and then a red to give the young Harriers defender his marching orders. The game was becoming a farce now and the inept official was the sole cause of it.
We bought on Stefan Moore in place of Baker and went from looking for the draw with the earlier addition of Smikle to an attacking move with the addition of Moore. It was Stefan that saved the day for us with a wonder strike that came out of the blue.
With the game looking like it was heading towards our first defeat for almost two months Stefan suddenly collected Creightons through ball, turned and shot in one sweet move to send the ball screaming into the net from twenty yards out.
Mass jubilation and hysteria followed from fans, players and coaching staff alike. The dug out seemed to empty in a split second as everyone rushed down to the corner flag to celebrate with Stefan.
Coote just stood there wondering where his plan had gone wrong.