Blue Square Premier: Forest Green 0 Grimsby Town 1
12:11pm Wednesday 6th March 2013 in Sport
FOREST Green's play-off ambitions appear to be drifting even further away as failure to hit the back of the net for a fourth consecutive game saw them succumb to promotion rivals Grimsby, writes Richard Joyce.
The Mariners, who are looking forward to a trip to Wembley later this month for the FA Trophy final, ensured the gap was widened between Rovers and the top five with a late strike from Derby County loanee Tom Naylor.
Forest Green dominated throughout the first half as Yan Klukowski, James Norwood and most notably Chris Stokes had tried their hand at ending Rovers goal drought but the away side came back to boss the second period.
Al Bangura returned from a five-match ban in Rovers’ midfield, while there was also a return for Eddie Oshodi to the back line in place of Aarran Racine, who missed out after picking up a knock on his return at Cambridge on the weekend.
Klukowski's early free kick curled narrowly over at the beginning of the first half, which saw Magno Vieira blaze wide shortly after following an incisive break away.
Much of Forest Green's well accomplished football was coming from the left hand side and full back Stokes’ lay-off for Norwood saw the latter's low strike grabbed by Grimsby keeper James McKeown.
Stokes was at it again minutes later but this time it was the former Bolton Wanderers youngster who produced a final effort which ranked as Rovers’ best chance of the game.
His pacey break forward saw him link up well with Matty Taylor, whose excellently manufactured back heel set Stokes for a shot on goal which slammed against the post.
A fine Rovers move drew enthusiastic encouragement from the crowd and they were almost on their feet in first half stoppage time when Klukowski again almost steered in an edge of the box free kick.
The story of the second half proved to be so very different, however, as Grimsby took control of the game.
Aswad Thomas tested Sam Russell with a stinging low drive which the Rovers shot stopper did well to stop and Ian Miller then stabbed over from close range after Joe Colbeck's free kick had caused chaos in the box.
With quarter of an hour left on the clock the Mariners managed to find the breakthrough and it came from a disappointing moment for the usually impeccable Russell.
Andi Thanoj's cross into the danger zone slipped from the grasp of Rovers’ chief goalkeeper and Naylor was on hand to push in what would prove to be the winner.
Forest Green: S Russell, J Hodgkiss, C Stokes, J Turley, E Oshodi, A Bangura (Y Odubade 77), Y Klukowski, L Fowler (K Forbes 69), J Norwood, M Vieira, M Taylor (B Wright 83). Subs not used: E Asafu-Adjaye, P Green Grimsby Town: J McKeown, B Wood, A Thomas (S Hatton 84), I Miller, T Naylor, D Niven (A Thanoj 29), J Colbeck, C Disley, M Marshall, A Cook, R Brodie (L John-Lewis 64). Subs not used: J Devitt, R Hannah Att: 744.
Ref: Peter Barnes.
Star Man: Chris Stokes.