The Lions hosted promotion chasing Forest Green at Nethermoor this afternoon but struggled to make any meaningful headway against a strong and physical Rovers side who took the three points back to Gloucestershire courtesy of leading scorer Christian Doidge twenty fourth goal of the season on 26 minutes.
The home sides cause wasn’t helped ten minutes into the second half when lone striker Jake Cassidy was shown a straight red for an alleged elbow to then face of Mark Ellis although the Forest Green defender looked to go to ground rather easily. But even after that the ten men nearly grabbed a share of the points late on.
The visitors were first out of the traps Omar Bugiel curled one over the angle and Kevan Hurst was just unable to get any power behind his header from the home sides first foray into the opposition penalty area.
The warning signs were there for the Lions though as Charlie Coppers cross-cum-shot nearly found Doidge but for a timely intervention by Connor Brown. Jonathan Maxted then did well to parry away the strikers next effort.
Will Hatfield tested Sam Russell from 25 yards but found the keeper equal to his effort.
Cassidy then shot over from a James Wesolowski cross before Doidge looped a header over Maxtedat the other end for the opener.
Ten minutes after the restart Cassidy got his marching orders and the diminutive Derek Asamoah assumed the lone striker role which was a bit like casting him into the land of the giants and as might be expected every subsequent Guiseley clearance just came back to put more pressure on the home defence .
Sanity eventually prevailed as first the battling Alex Purver replaced Simon Walton on 70 minutes and Michael Rankine added some much-needed muscle up front eight minutes later with Danny Lowe making way for him.
Indeed, Rankine put himself about and caused some concern for Rover defence which up to that point had just used their physical attributes to good effect.
And when Hatfield was fouled twenty yards out the big man’s thunderous free kick was just the wrong side of the post with Russell routed to the spot.
Marcus Williams capped a fine game with three minutes remaining as he battled his way down the left to deliver a low cross that skipped a cross the six-yard box, unfortunately with no takers and a chance of sharing the points was gone.
There was just time for Cooper to miss an absolute sitter for the visitors when he pulled his shot wide in the last minute of added time.
The victory consolidates FGR’s third place in the table whilst the defeat leaves the Lions looking over their shoulders as they sit just four points above the drop zone with four games still to play.
Good Friday’s trip to Braintree now assumes the status of a ‘six pointer’ if the Lions are not going to get dragged back into the relegation scrap.
3 Lowe (Rankine 78)
7 Hurst (Palmer 80)
24 Walton (Purver 70)
Manager Adam Lockwood’s post match reaction
Connor Brown’s thoughts