ounty were made to rue the miss of a second half penalty as they could only earn a 1-1 draw at still unbeaten Forest Green Rovers. It’s the second consecutive game that Mike Flynn has considered that the result is two points dropped rather than a point earned.
In an opening that saw very few openings for either side, it was the hosts who almost started the scoring on 11 minutes. Midfielder Carl Winchester found space 25 yards from goal; his shot beat Joe Day but hit the post and went out. Having cited the opening periods of the previous two games as an issue, this would have made County fans and players alike that extra bit nervous.
This was compounded just before the 20-minute mark as Forest Green took the lead in very fortunate circumstances. Dayle Grubb’s cross from the left-hand side was sliced past his own goalkeeper by Scot Bennett. Following the questionable penalty decision that went against County against Macclesfield on Tuesday night, fans and staff must have been feeling that the footballing gods were against their side.
It took almost another 20 minutes for County to carve out a moment of real threat; Antoine Semenyo was found by Padraig Amond after really good work from the returning Robbie Willmott but he couldn’t find the net.
However, just a moment later, Amond did the business himself. Robbie Willmott and Forbes were working well down the right channel; Willmott managed to get past full-back Joseph Mills, pulling the ball back into the area for a waiting Amond who picked his spot beautifully with the outside of his foot from 12 yards.
The home side responded well after the equaliser; Rueben Reid crashing the ball off the crossbar a matter of minutes later; a prolonged spell of pressure saw the same man send the ball over the bar from 30 yards out.
A second half largely made up of the ball being knocked around midfield and blocked shots from both sides, the big talking point came just after the hour mark when Rueben Reid was penalised for handball on the goal line as Jamille Matt shot for goal. Rovers manager Mark Cooper defended his man by stating, “It’s pretty clear that he’s leaned into the shot and it's hit him on the chest and shoulder. The fourth official said it wasn’t a penalty.” For the third consecutive game, Mickey Demetriou stepped up but where his last two have gone low into the net, his latest effort was sent way over the bar (and the stand) and with it, the last real opportunity to bring three points back to Rodney Parade.
“I thought we were the better team and deserved the three points,” said Flynn. “It was a good game – there’s not many you kind of enjoy on the touchline but there was some really good stuff played and I thought we were excellent but we were just without that final little bit of quality.
On the penalty miss, Flynn added, “He [Demetriou] has been brave enough to step up to take it and we all miss sometimes, so there’ll be no backlash from that.”
It says a lot about how County defended that the home side didn’t record a single shot on target throughout the game; it was just the unfortunate Bennett that could beat Joe day. To this end, Exiles fans can be buoyed by the fact that this match was another one in which they are unbeaten, extending the run to four in all competitions and the front line continues to look threatening. Above all else, County have dropped points in two consecutive matches, but have not slipped below 3rd position in the table in doing so, demonstrating that they are keeping pace with Lincoln and Exter well. As long as the defending at home becomes a lot more solid, the run is destined to continue.
Next up for County is a home tie with 5th-placed Stevenage, who came from a goal down to beat free-scoring Colchester United 3-1 on Saturday; another tricky test for Mike Flynn’s side and one that will no doubt produce an interesting contest.