9:11am Wednesday 26th February 2014
BARNET'S Mark Byrne scored after just 22 seconds as a frustrating display saw Forest Green crash to their first defeat of 2014, writes Richard Joyce.
Relegated from the Football League at the end of last season, the Bees ensured their first visit to The New Lawn was a successful one as two first half goals condemned Rovers to only their third home loss in the league this season.
Marcus Kelly’s outstanding late free kick saw him bag his ninth goal of the season, just days after signing a new contract with the club, but it was too little too late for Ady Pennock’s side.
It was an uphill battle straight from the kick-off as Barnet surged forward and secured a lead they would never let go of as Kieron Cadogan slipped a teasing ball into the area and Byrne broke from midfield to slot past Sam Russell.
Jared Hodgkiss, making his 150th league appearance for the club, blasted over as Rovers offered little in response.
James Norwood did well to turn and set Kelly free shortly after but the midfield man could only direct his effort wide.
The visitors, who had begun the season with former Netherlands legend Edgar Davids as their head coach, doubled their lead shortly before the half-time interval as Dani Lopez rose elegantly to head past Russell.
Barnet almost made it three seconds before the half-time whistle, but Russell managed to stop Keanu Marsh-Brown’s goal-bound effort from going in.
A quiet opening to the second half played right into the hands of the visitors who were chasing their fifth consecutive win, and only a weak Danny Wright header provided any threat early on.
Byrne’s volleyed effort never looked like finding the net, while Lee Hughes almost found a way back into the game for Rovers only to see his low effort hacked away at the last moment.
Curtis Weston, the youngest man to ever appear in an FA Cup final, saw his dipping shot almost nestle in the back of the Rovers net in the closing stages as Kelly bagged a consolation strike in stoppage time.
His first-class free kick was too far to reach for Nicky Jupp in the Bees goal, however it wasn’t enough for Rovers, who slipped back into the bottom half of the table.
FGR: S Russell, E Oshodi, J Hodgkiss, L Oliver (E Asafu-Adjaye 54), D Bennett, A Bangura (Y Klukowski 74), A Barry, M Kelly, J Norwood, L Hughes, D Wright (M Vieira 66). Subs not used: P White, P Green BARNET: N Jupp, A Yiadom, M Vilhente (E Johnson 88), V Gjokaj, D Stephens, M Byrne, C Weston, A Abdulla, K Cadogan, D Lopez (M Mengerink 74), J Hyde (K Marsh-Brown 22). Subs not used: J Saville, J Lowe Referee: Simon Bennett Attendance: 869 (85 away).
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