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28.02.2009 @ 15:00 The New Lawn Crowd: 992
Forest Green Rovers 1 - 1 Grays Athletic
Referee: R Martin (Weston-Super-Mare) Conference National-Match

Andrew Mangan (25) Ishmael Welsh (70)
Starting Line-ups
Terry Burton
Jerry Gill
Darren Jones
Lee Ayres
Paul Stonehouse
Paul Lloyd
Alex Lawless
Curtis McDonald
Conal Platt
Dave Brown
Andrew Mangan
Steve Arnold
Rob Gier
Jamie Stuart
Fabian Wilnis
Kenny Davis
Tony Dinning
Tyrone Berry
Ishmael Welsh
Barry Cogan
Stuart Thurgood
Andy Pugh
Ben Ashford
Ryan Robinson
Adriano Rigoglioso
Lee Fowler
Kaid Mohamed
Rob Beckwith
Stuart Elliott
Joe Tabiri
Jamie Slabber
James Lindie
Adriano Rigoglioso -> Jerry Gill (74)
Lee Fowler -> Paul Lloyd (53)
Kaid Mohamed -> Dave Brown (75)
Yellow cards
None Tyrone Berry (56)
Stuart Thurgood (81)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
You had to be there. In the 69th minute, Ishmael Welsh took the ball from the half way line.

Ishmael has been a force of nature over the last few months as he has terrorised defences up and down the land.

YourThurrock first spoke to Ish after the pre-season friendly against West Ham when he had such an exciting game. He was clearly on a mission this season to put his career back into gear. Indeed, to put himself back in the shop window.

At times we have wondered and could see why he had drifted down the leagues. Indeed, he found himself at The New Lawn on loan from Yeovil last season but failed to impress in his sixteen starts.

One particular night this season against Rushden and Diamonds he was facing a pedestrian right back but failed to get to the deadball line at all. It was so so frustrating.

His inner belief ignited with the Carlisle games and since then he has been terrific. He skips over defenders and close control is outstanding.

In the 69th minute he dribbled, danced and outpaced the Forest Green players until he got to the area where he emphatically rifled the ball past Rovers keeper, Terry Gibson.

It was no more than what the Blues deserved. Up to this point they had played a controlled, disciplined game with a new formation. It looked like 4-4-1-1 with Stuart Thurgood and Tony Dinning using every ounce of experience to keep Grays in the game.

Dinning impressed with his movement and perfect passing. He was a great help to debutant Tyrone Berry whom he wanted to see get down the flank a lot more.

Dinning did have a tendency to do that - “I’m in my thirties so I will do quite a lot of pointing” - but he also showed great vision and accuracy in his passing.

Forest Green had taken the lead in the 28th minute when Plan A came off. Andy Mangan looked on fire coming off a first half hat-trick against Torquay. A long kick out from keeper Terry Gibson was nudged to the right into Mangan’s path who neatly lobbed the ball over Steve Arnold’s head.

Grays should have equalised from the kick off when hard working Andy Pugh broke free but struck the ball directly at Gibson. A minute later, Barry Cogan did the same again.

Cogan looked happy playing in a freer role but over the last few games his radar has gone awol and he needs to get it back quickly if the team are to survive.

The tactics were a risk as Pugh prefers to play deep but all the players looked very comfortable.

Grays didn’t panic and as the second half progressed continued to play a patient passing game using the experience of Stuart Thurgood and Tony Dinning as well as the searing pace of Ishmael Welsh used so effectively for the equaliser.

Rovers tried to come back with Platt playing very well down the left but the Grays defence were resolute. The vast experience of Jamie Stuart and Fabian Wilnis will be vital.

Steve Arnold commanded his area well ( he had to as there was no sub keeper). He made a vital save in the dying minutes when MacDonald’s shot from outside the area somehow made it through the area but Arnold did well to get down low and block it away.

Forest Green were awful in the second half, bereft of ideas and direction while Grays remained resolute and kept to the plan

There are fifteen games to go now and Grays enter March where they have nine games. At the moment it looks like a point away and defeats at home. The could play well and realistically get four points out of 27.

Lewes and Northwich look doomed. We will wait to see how Weymouth work it out. Woking will have been delighted with their point against Burton whereas Barrow will be very disappointed with dropping two points against The Vics.

Whatever happens, the travelling fans were in fantastic voice. There were less than 300 Grays fans at the Cambridge match. Let us hope there are a few more this Tuesday against Torquay.

Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to Your Thurrock for the match report