FOREST Green boss David Hockaday cut a satisfied figure as his team snatched a last-gasp point at Gateshead.
For the second successive Saturday, Rovers secured a point by scoring from the penalty spot in the very last minute.
In the absence of Yan Klulowski, it fell to Reece Styche to take the responsibility, and he powered it past the impressive Adam Bartlett in the Gateshead goal to share the honours in a game from
which they certainly deserved something.
Hockaday said: “I’m really pleased we’ve come here and, for me, been the better footballing team.
“We’ve had some incredible chances; if you don’t take your chances you don’t win games.
“We’ve just gone on and on with the passing game. Overall, I suppose it’s a fair result but a good performance.
“We’ve kept on going, great team spirit, good fitness levels, good possession.
“We’ve now got more belief, we’re better athletes and footballers, and two late equalisers are the least we’ve deserved from both games.”
Earlier, Kieron Forbes’ was forced to miss out in a starting line up that saw Al Bangura back in midfield with James Norwood moved to the bench to see a striking force of Styche, Viera and Ben
For the first half hour Rovers typically played by far the most fluently of the two teams, hardly giving the home side a touch, but without creating too many chances.
The best and most clear cut fell to James Rowe whose shot lacked power after being fed by Styche who seemed almost back to his best, relishing in his lone out and out striker role.
Things almost changed though when Gateshead marksman Nathan Fisher’s shot took a deflection and the Rovers keeper Sam Russell was forced to twist in mid air like an Olympic gymnast and touched the
ball over the bar.
It was the same player, though, who gave the hosts a rather fortuitous lead on the 53rd minute, after Norwood had replaced Wright at half time.
An innocuous looking free kick was threaded into the box, and Fisher’s touch was unintended and probably took another ricochet before sneaking past the stranded Russell.
Rovers continued to press, with Bartlett being forced to make a couple of smart saves, and Styche found the net with a ‘ hand of God ‘ goal, blatantly punching a cross into the net.
Inexplicably the referee first awarded the goal, but his assistant pointed out the obvious offence, and Styche was booked for his antics.
It looked the game had drifted out of Rovers’ reach but as added time approached, Styche went on yet another lone run.
It looked the danger was over as the front man was forced away from goal, but Magnay stuck out a leg and there were few arguments as the ref pointed to the spot. Rovers’ unbeaten start to the
season continued, and this was a good performance despite the strikers still not firing on all cylinders.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Turley, A. Raccine, E. Oshodi, E. Asafu-Adjaye; J. Collins, A. Bangura (M. Taylor 76), J. Rowe; M. Vieira (P. Marsh 69), R. Styche, B. Wright (J. Norwood 46).
Subs not used: O. Koroma, M. Bulman.
Star Man: Reece Styche.