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05.01.2008 @ 15:00 The New Lawn Crowd: 975
Forest Green Rovers 1 - 2 Grays Athletic
Referee: D Coote Conference National-Match

Simon Clist (62) Luis Cumbers (45)
Ben Watson (82)
Starting Line-ups
Ryan Robinson
Darren Jones
John Hardiker
Mark Preece
Simon Clist
Paul Stonehouse
Michael Brough
Jamie Pitman
Stuart Fleetwood
Adriano Rigoglioso
Mark Beesley
Ross Flitney
Jamie Stuart
Jon Ashton
Simon Downer
Santos Gaia
Karl Murray
Alan Power
Michael Standing
Aaron O'Connor
Luis Cumbers
Ben Watson
Danny Bertram
Lee Dodgson
Jonathon Smith
Les Afful
Terry Burton
Bradley Gibbons
Jack Obersteller
Jamie Day
Charley Hearn
Ernie Cooksey
Jonathan Smith -> Jamie Pitman (73)
Lee Dodgeson -> Paul Stonehouse (76)
Les Afful -> Adriano Rigoglioso (77)
Ernie Cooksey -> Aaron O'Connor (55)
Jack Obersteller -> Michael Standing (66)
Jamie Day -> Alan Power (81)
Yellow cards
Michael Brough (37) Ross Flitney (41)
Alan Power (73)
Red cards
None Simon Downer (51)
Match report |

Edinburgh's relief after ten men triumph

FLU-stricken Forest Green were left as sick as the proverbial parrot as ten man Grays put a serious dent in the Gloucestershire side's Blue Square Premier play-off aspirations.

Luis Cumbers (45) and Ben Watson (82) saw Justin Edinburgh's side end Rovers' three-month unbeaten home record at a rain sodden New Lawn.

Twenty-four hours earlier Rovers had pleaded to have the game postponed due to a sickness bug that had swept through the squad, but their plea was rebuffed.

And on Saturday not even a late pitch inspection could save the poorly squad.

Edinburgh was delighted with the manner in which his side came away with the points, but was perplexed by the dismissal of Simon Downer though relieved that the outstanding Ross Flitney stayed on the pitch following a professional foul in the first half on Mark Beesley.

Downer saw red as he was being replaced. He had already been booked and when he was later substituted he dawdled too much for the ref who gave him second caution.

Edinburgh said: "We are very pleased with the result against an excellent footballing side. The sending off was a strange decision - I've never seen that before. We substituted him through injury and he gets sent-off. I'm going back in to see the referee to find out his version of things."

On Flitney, he said: "I would have to see it again I think it was very close but I would probably say the decision favoured us. You don't like to see players sent off but I perhaps thought the goalkeeper had to go, but he stayed on the pitch.

"Thankfully so as he made some outstanding saves. I've not seen a better keeper at this level."

Earlier, Forest Green began brightly enough in a turgid opening 20 minutes.

Stuart Fleetwood and Mark Beesley almost nosed Rovers ahead on 32 minutes.

Michael Brough's ball over the top released the much admired Fleetwood but Flitney did well to block, and as the ball broke, Mark Beesley was hindered by the bog-like conditions inside the box.

Nonetheless, Flitney was lucky to remain on the pitch when Beesley was blatantly body-checked just outside the box following neat interplay from Adriano Rigoglioso and Fleetwood. Flitney saw yellow and from the resultant free-kick, Fleetwood fizzed over.

However, on the cusp of the interval Grays nosed ahead. Ryan Robinson's sloppy free-kick allowed Cumbers to nip in and strike. Paul Stonehouse came close to parity with a stinging drive in stoppage time and moments later a crude challenge on Stonehouse saw Downer booked.

Worse was to follow when Downer received his marching orders six minutes after the break after the referee deemed he had taken too much time to leave the pitch.

Grays were certainly not knocked out of their stride and immediately went close to a second with Cumbers striking the base of Robinson's post.

However, Rovers rallied with Rigoglioso forcing Flitney to touch onto the bar from 30 yards.

Rovers drew level on 62 minutes. John Hardiker's slide-rule pass released Simon Clist who finished with aplomb from just inside the box.

Rigoglioso was already celebrating five minutes later when his splendid curling strike looked on its way in but to his dismay it cannoned off the post.

And the smiles were on the other side's faces at the other end when Watson poached the points for Grays eight minutes from time.

Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report