Lee Fowler makes Forest Green return in Woking defeat
WOKING 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0
FOREST Green have slipped out of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off places after a night of toil and torture in Surrey.
Second-half strikes from Kevin Betsy and Jack Parkinson settled a hard-fought contest on a lumpy pitch at the Kingfield Stadium.
Back-to-back defeats could hardly have come at a worse time for Dave Hockaday's men, whose place in the top five has been taken by in-form Mansfield Town.
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Hockaday's starting XI was unchanged but there was a more than familiar face on the bench in the shape of midfielder Lee Fowler, recruited on a month's loan from Doncaster Rovers.
It is the Welshman's third stint at the New Lawn and surely a smart piece of business, with Kieron Forbes and Jamie Collins still labouring with injuries and Steve Brogan set to miss the rest of the campaign following knee surgery.
Fowler should slot seamlessly into Rovers' fluid 4-3-3 formation, and a quick start from the visitors saw Matty Taylor fire wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Bradley Bubb did likewise at the other end in the 14th minute after pouncing on Betsy's lay-off, and a more speculative effort from Cards skipper Mark Ricketts curled harmlessly wide of Sam Russell's far post.
Home keeper Seb Brown was called into action for the first time on 18 minutes, getting a hand to James Norwood's snap-shot, and from the resulting corner Taylor saw his effort on the turn go wide.
Brown was scrambling again when Paul Green let fly from 20 yards, but the shot dipped just the wrong side of the crossbar from a Forest Green perspective.
Betsy connected sweetly with a drive from similar range, bringing a sharp smothering save from Russell, and the Rovers stopper excelled again two minutes later to tip Bubb's impressive volley around the post.
Fowler was introduced at the start of the second half in place of Eddie Oshodi and immediately looked at home, but he was powerless to prevent Woking breaking the deadlock.
It stemmed from hesitant defending, as Jayden Stockley's knockdown bobbled to the edge of the box and former Wycombe Wanderers man Betsy rammed home.
There was almost an instant riposte when Magno Vieira burst past two defenders in the right channel, only to see his attempt blocked by Brown.
But it could easily have been 2-0 in the 67th minute when Stockley got on the end of John Nutter's inswinging free-kick and nodded straight at Russell.
Brown's handling had to be sure at the other end to clutch a volleyed effort by Fowler, and he was fortunate moments later when he spilled a Yan Klukowski free-kick and the ball was hacked to safety.
It proved pivotal, as with 12 minutes left a corner was never properly cleared and Parkinson fired a scorcher past Russell into the top corner of the net.
A goalline clearance by Brett Johnson preserved Woking's two-goal cushion after an almighty scramble from a set piece, and in truth the well-drilled hosts deserved their clean sheet.
Woking: S. Brown; A. Newton, J. McNerney, B. Johnson, M. Cestor (G. McCallum 89); K. Betsy, M. Ricketts, J. Parkinson, J. Nutter; B. Bubb (G. Frith 90), J. Stockley (B. Williams 85); Subs not used: E. Putnins, L. Pires.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Hodgkiss, J. Turley, E. Asafu-Adjaye, C. Stokes; E. Oshodi (L. Fowler 46), P. Green (B. Wright 75), Y. Klukowski; M. Vieira, M. Taylor, J. Norwood (Y. Odubade 57); Subs not used: A. Racine, O. Koroma.
Referee: K. Johnson (Somerset)
Star man: Jared Hodgkiss