2:31pm Tuesday 29th October 2013
By SNJ Sport
SCOTT Bartlett’s Forest Green U18s booked themselves a place in the first round proper of the FA Youth Cup with a satisfying win in difficult conditions against Cirencester Academy, writes Richard Joyce.
Rovers’ youngsters will now host Football League apprentices Torquay United in the first round at The New Lawn after overcoming South West Counties Youth League rivals Cirencester in a tricky tie played in atrocious conditions.
Heavy rain and a boggy surface made life difficult, but nonetheless both teams impressed throughout with Rovers ability in front of goal eventually the telling factor.
Dan Martin had fired Rovers in front after just five minutes, and after Martin was fouled on the half hour mark, Callum Richings had put the home side two goals up in the first half.
Cirencester, led by former Wales international Steve Lowndes, had hit back in the second half through Gareth James but Niall Morgan’s assured finish confirmed Rovers progress through the entire qualification stage.
Martin’s early opener marked an ideal start for Rovers who were bidding to make it into the first round for the first time for several seasons, and the striker, who appeared for the first team in pre-season, slid a confident finish past Ciren shot-stopper William Miller after just five minutes to place his side in front.
Tom Mazur and Mason Thompson both engineered early chances for the visitors in response, but it was Rovers left winger Richings who went close to doubling the hosts lead when his stunning strike was turned away by an equally impressive save from Miller.
Richings would eventually find a way past Miller on the half hour mark as Martin was brought down just inside the area, and the former planted a powerful penalty kick down the middle to double Rovers lead.
Despite facing an uphill task, Cirencester produced some excellent football in the second half and they dominated from the start as Harry Owen and Thompson both produced good openings.
A rare Rovers effort from Josh Patel ten minutes into the half washed wide as Owen came even closer to helping his side back into the game as his rasping shot saw Rovers shot-stopper Ben Hodges pull off a good stop.
The away sides continued dominance eventually led to what would be their only goal as James struck a smart drive to hand Cirencester a foothold in the game.
And just minutes later substitute Liam Mansell’s speculative long distance drive almost forced the game into extra time.
Rovers win was confirmed though three minutes from time however as Morgan snatched at a free ball in the Ciren box and unleashed a powerful thump which rocked the back of the net.
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