Defensive disarray costs Rovers dear in big defeat
Welling United 5
Forest Green Rovers 2
A MISERABLE night in Kent saw Forest Green pay an embarrassing price for defensive lapses and indiscipline.
Eddie Oshodi's own goal and a Loick Pires strike saw Rovers 2-0 down inside 18 minutes, only for skipper Anthony Barry to net in spectacular fashion for a second match running and seemingly turn the tide.
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Substitute Yan Klukowski duly levelled with a penalty, but a red card for Dale Bennett put the Wings back in flight and they soared to an emphatic win thanks to Ross Lafayette's penalty and late efforts by Lee Clarke and Alex Dyer.
Dave Hockaday made two changes to the XI that started against FC Halifax Town, with Marcus Kelly recalled to midfield at the expense of Klukowski and Matthew Barnes-Homer replacing Matty Taylor in attack.
James Norwood looked in ebullient mood from the off, and he embarked on a mazy run from deep before feeding Danny Wright for a near-post shot that was saved by Lee Butcher.
Five minutes later Rovers were behind, as they failed to deal with a free-kick into the box from the right and Doug Bergqvist's shot cannoned off Oshodi past a helpless Sam Russell.
The defending was no less haphazard for Welling's second, Russell sparing Oshodi another own goal with a fine save from a deflected Loui Fazakerley shot but powerless to prevent substitute Pires netting the rebound.
Captain Barry initially tried to repeat his feat against Halifax with a 20-yard strike that whistled inches past the post in the 28th minute.
But his side suffered another blow four minutes later when Kelly – absent for the last two matches with a hamstring problem – was forced to hobble off and be substituted by Klukowski.
Russell's reflexes had to be sharp to prevent Welling taking a three-goal lead, the ex-Darlington stopper tipping over Kurtis Guthrie's header from Fazakerley's cross.
Dyer also chanced his arm from range before the break, but once again Russell's handling was sure before Lafayette blazed one over from a tight angle.
The lifeline came in the third minute of first-half stoppage time, Oshodi producing a brilliant cross-field pass to Barry and the midfielder curling a sublime shot beyond the reach of Butcher into the far corner of the net.
Rovers began the second period on the front foot, Barnes-Homer and Wright both forcing plunging near-post stops from Butcher.
A 40-yard effort by Jamie Turley was wayward and ambitious in the extreme, but it signalled the visitors' intentions to play with more urgency and less fuss.
On 61 minutes Norwood's floated cross was clearly handled by Welling left-back Jack Obersteller, giving Klukowski the chance to drill a textbook spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Rovers now looked by far the likelier winners, but the wheels came off again when Clarke was hauled down by Bennett after wriggling clear and referee Lee Swabey issued the double punishment of penalty and red card.
Lafayette restored the hosts' lead, and three minutes later the game was effectively over when Russell misjudged a cross from the right and the ball dropped for Clarke to net from close range.
Hockaday's men did fold: Barnes-Homer forced a double save from Butcher, but Dyer shot perfectly beyond Russell.
Welling United: L Butcher; L Fazakerley, F Franks, D Bergqvist (L Pires 17), Jack Obersteller; J Gallagher, L Clarke, A Dyer, J Healy; K Guthrie (C Webb 90), R Lafayette (K Hughes-Mason 88). Subs not used: Joe Obersteller, J Turner.
Forest Green: S Russell; D Bennett, J Turley, E Oshodi, J Hodgkiss; A Barry, A Bangura, M Kelly (Y Klukowski 32, A Racine 70); M Barnes-Homer, D Wright (A Mangan 73), J Norwood. Subs not used: M Vieira, M Taylor.
Referee: L Swabey (Plymouth)
Star man: Jared Hodgkiss