Fowler off as Rovers draw
NORTHWICH VICTORIA 0
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0
GOALKEEPER Ryan Robinson was the Forest Green hero as they stopped the rot after back-to-back defeats had seen the club slip from top to mid-table in the Blue Square Premier.
Rovers boss Jim Harvey had to make do without four key players, with Andy Mangan (groin), Alex Lawless (hip), John Hardiker (knee) and Curtis McDonald all sidelined for the Victoria Stadium clash.
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But his injury-hit side dug in to earn a point and the manager will be delighted with a clean sheet after they conceded four goals in a defeat to Ebbsfleet United last time out.
A blank at both ends left Harvey's opposite number Dino Maamria not knowing how to feel.
He felt his side had enough opportunities to win the game and the best ones came within a minute of each other after the interval.
Jonny Allan scampered on to Darren Jones weak header only to see Robinson – superb throughout – leaping towards him as he looked to lob.
The Rovers goalkeeper touched the ball clear.
Allan turned provider soon afterwards, clipping a perfect centre to the back post where Darryn Stamp, all alone but leaning backwards, blazed over the bar.
The hosts did not come that close again.
Instead they ended in debt to Simon Grand, imperious on his home debut, whose sliding block 10 minutes from time denied Les Afful a certain goal after he had danced around Scott Tynan.
By then Forest Green had been playing for almost an hour a man down.
Lee Fowler was sent off on 38 minutes for sheer stupidity. Understandably upset at Ryan Brown's robust, two-footed challenge seconds earlier, he then lurched – elbow first – into Danny Williams head.
Even before that Vics had crafted the clearer openings.
Allan's half-volley stung Robinson's palms following Stamp's clever flick on seven minutes before Stamp fluffed a simple chance.
Allan was again involved, sending Chris Flynn down the left flank on the quarter hour. The former Stafford schemer checked on to his right foot before picking out Stamp, again unmarked, at the far post only for the forward to fail even to make contact.
He should have scored.
Allan and Michael Carr fired over from awkward angles before Mark Preece's slide stopped Matty Crowell's cross finding Williams in front of goal.
Rovers, for all their fluidity in possession, seldom found time to foray forward. They finished strongly – Jones sending a header narrowly over from Kaid Mohamed's set piece – but Afful's close shave aside, Tynan enjoyed an afternoon off.
His inactivity made a failure to secure a first win, at the ninth attempt, all the more frustrating.
Northwich Victoria: Tynan, Aspin, Roberts, Grand, Brown, Carr (Barratt 69), Crowell, Flynn, Williams (Byrne 74), Allan (Phil Marsh 80), Stamp. Subs not used: Jones, Bailey. Booked: Grand (foul).
Forest Green: Robinson, Smith, Jones, Preece, Stonehouse, Mohamed, Fowler, Clist, Platt (Simpson 69), Rigoglioso (Molyneaux 61), Afful (Thomas 90). Sub not used: Burton. Booked: Rigoglioso, Smith (both fouls). Sent off: Fowler (violent conduct)
Attendance: 603 (38 from Forest Green)