Rovers snuff out Dragons to raise hopes of title bid
Forest Green Rovers 0
RARELY can stalemate have felt so satisfying for Dave Hockaday – although the feeling was not shared by his opposite number.
Two well-drilled promotion contenders slugged out a contest full of courage but lacking the crucial composure in front of goal, the result being that Rovers sit six points adrift of top spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
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Andy Morrell's men returned home with a sense of injustice, believing a late Danny Wright header had been saved from behind the line by Sam Russell.
But a share of the spoils was the very least the hosts deserved from their first home match of 2013, and belief that they could even compete for the title is burgeoning.
Matty Taylor and Jay Harris saw decent early shots miss the target as both sides began in confident fashion beneath the bright Cotswold sun.
Wrexham defender Martin Riley forced the game's first save, getting on the end of a diagonal ball and forcing Russell to shovel his headed effort around the post.
That triggered a spell of control from the visitors, although their goalkeeper Chris Maxwell had to be alert to dash off his line and smother at the feet of Yan Klukowski after a flowing move in the 35th minute.
Two minutes later Reece Styche jinked to work space for a 20-yard shot that had to be beaten away by Maxwell.
The waspish Styche was determined not to give the Dragons' backline a moment's peace, and he saw a header tipped over by Maxwell from an inswinging Klukowski free-kick.
Yet it remained goalless at the break, and at the start of the second period James Norwood screwed a shot horribly wide after a surging run from deep.
More worrying for home fans was the sight of Styche on the turf clutching his knee in the 56th minute following a hefty but fair challenge by Harris.
The Rovers striker was carried back to the dressing room on a stretcher and replaced by Magno Vieira, having seen a Johnny Hunt effort fizz wide for Wrexham.
An uncharacteristic long punt led to Rovers' next opening, Norwood providing a flick-on for Taylor to get a low shot away and bring a low stop from Maxwell.
Seconds later Taylor had a more gilt-edged opportunity eight yards out, but he seemed to get the ball stuck under his feet following an overlapping run and cross by right-back Jared Hodgkiss.
On 77 minutes came the game's biggest talking point, former Wrexham loanee Russell producing a brilliant one-handed save to keep out a header from Danny Wright.
Dragons player/boss Morrell, warming up as a substitute and with a linesman's view, was adamant the ball had crossed the line.
An unruffled Russell came to his side's rescue again ten minutes later, blocking substitute Adrian Cieslewicz's shot with his legs before the rebound was blazed over by Joe Clarke.
Forest Green: S Russell; J Hodgkiss, J Turley, E Oshodi, C Stokes; K Forbes (J Collins 89), A Bangura, Y Klukowski; M Taylor, R Styche (M Vieira 59), J Norwood (Y Odubade 90). Subs not used: E Asafu-Adjaye, M Bulman.
Wrexham: C Maxwell; D Alfei (S Wright 70), C Westwood, M Riley, N Ashton; J Clarke, D Keates, J Harris; B Ormerod (A Morrell 82), D Wright, J Hunt (A Cieslewicz 75). Subs not used: G Little, K Thornton.
Referee: G Horwood (Beds)
Star man: Jamie Turley – Thoroughly assured and dominant ahead of his England C duties