Blue Square Premier: Forest Green 4 Braintree 1
11:58am Wednesday 13th February 2013 in Sport
JAMES NORWOOD crowned his new contract extension with a hat-trick as Forest Green brushed aside Braintree Town at The New Lawn in sumptuous style, writes Richard Joyce.
The stimulating attacker shone for Rovers, who gained revenge on their Essex opponents for a disappointing defeat at Braintree just a week before Christmas.
Norwood's hat-trick stole the headlines but Yan Klukowski's finish and a sensational volley from Braintree's Luke Daley contributed to an entertaining evening of football.
Dale Bennett earned his first start since joining in January in place of Eddie Oshodi while there was a welcome return in midfield for Kieron Forbes after he missed Saturday's trip to Luton with a knock picked up on international duty.
Forbes' England C compatriot Jamie Turley almost found an unexpected early opener when his deep cross beat everyone in the box and was clawed away by visiting keeper Nathan McDonald.
Matty Taylor then shipped two efforts wide ahead of two goals in the space of eight minutes from James Norwood that put Rovers in the driving seat.
Firstly the 22-year-old headed in firmly from Klukowski's corner kick and a fantastic volley followed to help extend the home side's lead.
James Mulley's speculative response was all the away side could muster until Daley fired in from the edge of the box with an eye-catching thunderous volley that could be considered a serious goal of the season contender.
Braintree's late first half strike put a new twist on the atmosphere heading into the second period as Rovers' two goal cushion was restored with Klukowski notching his goal.
Paul Green's shot was charged down, and after a few moments of pinball, the ball fell to Klukowski, who was in the right place to tuck in a third.
Sam Russell was then on hand to keep the visitors at bay as he saved from Dan Holman at close range while the latter almost curved in a stylish strike minutes later.
Past the hour mark, though, Norwood bagged his hat-trick and a fourth and final goal with a cheeky header. Klukowski's chip into the box was met by Norwood, who directed a backwards header into the net to capture his second hat-trick since the start of the year.
Mulley again went close for the visitors with a long distance effort while substitute Oshodi almost knocked in another Klukowski delivery as Rovers made it four games unbeaten.