|Forest Green Rovers 1 v 2 Ipswich Town|
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 6th August 2022 Kick-off 15:00
Forest Green Rovers 1-2 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 6th Aug 2022 17:08
First-half goals from Marcus Harness and Sam Morsy saw Town to a 2-1 victory over Forest Green Rovers at the Bolt New Lawn, Josh March having pulled one back for the home side in the second. Harness netted his first Town goal in the 37th minute, then Morsy curled a stunning strike into the top corner in first-half injury time before March made it a nervy second period for Town with his 64th-minute goal.
The Blues were forced into one change from last week’s 1-1 draw at home to Bolton with Luke Woolfenden absent due to illness and Cameron Burgess replacing him in the backline.
Otherwise, the Blues named the same team which started against the Trotters with Christian Walton in goal and Janoi Donacien and George Edmundson, who moved into the middle of the back three, the other centre-halves.
Wes Burns and Leif Davis were the wing-backs with skipper Sam Morsy and Lee Evans in the midfield.
Conor Chaplin and Marcus Harness were behind lone out-and-out striker Freddie Ladapo.
Midfielder Rekeem Harper was also ill and was replaced on the bench by Kane Vincent-Young.
Forest Green, hosting their first League One match and facing Town for the first time, named the same team which won 2-1 away at Bristol Rovers last week with former Blues striker Connor Wickham, who joined them on Wednesday, not included in the 18.
The home side were first to threaten, Burgess slipping and allowing Forest Green skipper Jamille Matt the ball and some space just outside the area, however, Davis got across to dispossess him.
The ball subsequently ran wide to Corey O’Keeffe on the right of the box but the wing-back took a theatrical tumble as he took it past Burgess and out of play with referee Craig Hicks waving away his protests.
Town immediately threatened with Davis winning a corner on the left from which Morsy was found in space at the back of the box. The skipper took a touch before hitting a shot which was going wide before Edmundson nodded over.
The Blues briefly began to take charge but became sloppy against a determined Forest Green side not allowing them any time on the ball and with their fans getting behind them.
On nine, after Town had lost the ball on halfway, Regan Hendry shot well over from distance, then three minutes later Harness hit a low effort from the edge of the box from a Donacien ball in from the right, which home keeper Luke McGee claimed with little fanfare.
The Blues did gain control as the game moved towards the 20-minute mark and in the 21st minute went close to going in front.
Burns stood up a cross from the right and Morsy headed goalwards from the centre of the area but McGee saved, although with the Town players claiming the ball struck a Forest Green hand on its way through to him.
Two minutes later, Harness played the ball into Ladapo’s feet on the edge of the area and the striker hit a shot on the turn which McGee palmed away for a corner.
The flag-kick came to nothing and in the aftermath, with Evans clearly having been fouled, Forest Green broke but Udoka Godwin-Malife’s cross from the right was hooked behind by Burgess. Godwin-Malife suffered an injury as he made his cross and was replaced by Dom Bernard.
Town continued to dominate and as the game reached the half-hour mark Chaplin struck a low shot on the turn from the edge of the area on the right which McGee claimed at his post.
Despite the Blues having been well on top, Forest Green went very close to going in front in the 36th minute. O'Keeffe played a great low ball into the area for Matt from the right but Walton superbly came off his line to block from the home skipper, the ball ricocheting back off the former Newport man and out for a goal-kick.
Immediately, Town went up the other end and went in front via Harness’s first goal for the club.
Morsy sent Davis away on the left and the former Leeds man crossed low into the box. Baily Cargill cut it out at a stretch and Ladapo hit a shot which was blocked but the loose ball fell to Harness around 12 yards out from where the ex-Portsmouth man slammed into the top corner of the net to the keeper’s right.
On 43, Harness hit a low effort which McGee saved down to his right, then in the final scheduled minute of the half Davis was just thwarted at the far post by Bernard as a cross came over from the right.
And in injury time, the Blues doubled their lead and what a goal it was. Burns twisted and turned around 15 yards out before laying the ball to Morsy, who brilliantly curled into the top corner of McGee’s net. It was a superb strike and will have more than made up for last week’s late miss against Bolton.
The whistle ended the half soon afterwards with the Blues good for their lead over the balance of the half.
However, the might well have found themselves behind had Walton not read and reacted to Matt’s chance for Forest Green moments before Harness’s goal, the former Pompey man taking his opportunity clinically.
But the forward’s goal was eclipsed by Morsy’s strike just before the break which has given the Blues a lead at the break which ought to be unassailable.
Forest Green swapped former Wolves and Birmingham midfielder David Davis for Josh March at the break and on 51 Ben Stevenson was shown the game’s first yellow card for a trip on Morsy on halfway.
Two minutes later, the Blues were allowed to take a quick free-kick not far outside the area, Ladapo receiving the ball inside the box on the right from Chaplin, turning his man then curling a shot well wide.
In the 59th minute, Forest Green were repeatedly unable to fully clear following a Town corner on the left and eventually Evans curled a shot over and off the advertising hoarding at the top of the stand.
The home side made two changes in the 62nd minute with Stevenson, who had suffered a knock, and Kyle McAllister making way for debutant Sean Robertson and Armani Little.
Two minutes later, they pulled a goal back with sub Little at the heart of it. The former Torquay man worked himself space on the right of the area and hit a shot which Walton blocked, but the loose ball fell to March, who smashed into the roof of the net.
Town, suddenly under some pressure, swapped Davis, who had had a more effective afternoon at left wing-back than last week, for Greg Leigh.
Forest Green thought they’d levelled on 68 when March again found the net but having strayed offside.
A minute later, with the home fans now making more noise than at any time during the afternoon, Walton made a brilliant double save, first blocking from March, then stopping Robertson’s follow-up with his legs.
Town, who were somewhat under the cosh, made another two changes, Chaplin and Harness making way for Sone Aluko and Tyreece John-Jules.
The Blues began to show more composure and on 75 Aluko scraped a low shot wide after a neat interchange of passes on the right. Three minutes later, Reece Brown was booked for a foul on Morsy on halfway.
In the 81st minute, Burns crossed from the right, Ladapo took the ball down and then hit a shot on the turn which deflected over.
Town, who had restored control of the game, switched Ladapo and Burns for Kayden Jackson and Vincent-Young in the 84th minute.
A minute later, Morsy cut out a cross from the left, then fed Jackson on the right. The former Accrington man, playing on the right, swept a pass into the path of John-Jules which was cut out by a defender.
Town had a spell camped around the Forest Green area without being able to carve out a chance, then moments before the fourth official indicated nine additional minutes there was a big scare for the Blues.
Burgess and March tangled with the Forest Green man otherwise through on goal. The home crowd and players called for a red card while the Blues were adamant that the former Australian U23 international had been fouled first. Referee Craig Hicks showed a yellow card to Burgess and the free-kick was hit straight at the Town wall.
Aluko looped a shot into McGee’s arms from just outside the box to the right but the Blues were far from having it their own way in injury time.
But eventually referee Hicks blew his whistle to confirm a Town victory in their first ever match against Forest Green and their first three points of the season.
Having looked all but home and hosed at half-time Town made rather heavy weather of it in the second half and the Gloucestershire side put in a spirited fightback to pull a goal back and then during the period afterwards in which the Blues looked distinctly shaky.
Overall though, Town had been the better side and had created enough chances to claim the three points.
The Blues are next in action against Colchester United at Portman Road in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday with the MK Dons visiting in League One next Saturday.
Forest Green: McGee, O'Keeffe, Cargill, Stevenson (Little 62), Hendry, Matt (c), Moore-Taylor (Casey 87), McAllister (Robertson 62), Godwin-Malife (Bernard 27), Davis (March 46), Brown. Unused: Thomas, Bunker.
Town: Walton, Donacien, Edmundson, Burgess, Burns (Vincent-Young 84), Evans, Morsy (c), Davis, Chaplin (Aluko 70), Harness (John-Jules 70), Ladapo (Jackson 84). Unused: Hladky, Edwards. Referee: Craig Hicks (Surrey). Att: 4,015.
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