Leasing.com Trophy

Forest Green Rovers 0

Coventry City 0

(Forest Green win 8-7 on penalties)

A STUNNING goalkeeping masterclass from Bristol City loanee Joe Wollacott saw Forest Green pick up a bonus point in the leasing.com Trophy after a penalty shootout victory saw Mark Cooper’s side maintain their place at the top of Group E.

Earlier, both teams shared a point each in 90 minutes as Rovers more than matched a Coventry City side, who are flying high in League One.

Rovers and City were clinical from the spot as shootout strikes rippled the back of the net. Matt Stevens, James Morton, Dom Bernard, Junior Mondal, Taylor Allen, Vaughn Covil, Nathan McGinley and Udoka Godwin-Malife were all on target with only Ebou Adams culpable from the penalty spot.

Rovers were indebted to Wollacott, who repelled Kyle McFadzean’s kick to take the tie 8-7 on penalties.

Brimming with youthful exuberance, manager Mark Cooper handed former Southampton starlet Vaughn Covil, 16, his first-ever start. The fledgling winger was joined by Dan Jones, 17, another product of the Saints youth set-up, who took his place on the bench.

Rovers suffered a blow inside two minutes - Dayle Grubb pulling up with a knee issue. Defender Liam Kitching took his place with Ebou Adams coming out of the back-three to beef-up the midfield.

With Rovers and City making eight and 10 changes respectively, the first telling moment fell to the Sky Blues - Amadou Bakayoko failing to get enough on his header from a teasing Tennai Watson cross.

Only a smart parry from Wollacott prevented Bakayoko opening his account on 17 minutes - the burly striker spinning Kitching and stinging the gloves of the quick-thinking loanee.

Rovers suffered their second injury concern of the evening, captain Liam Shephard hobbling off to be replaced by Dom Bernard with only 18 minutes gone.

Tempers frayed somewhat with Bakayoko and Kitching going toe-to-toe – Bakayako incurring a booking with 29 minutes on the clock.

Three minutes later and only the sprawling hand of Ben Wilson denied Bernard who ran beyond Sam McCallum from a raking James Morton pass, which split the Coventry defence wide open.

Rovers upped the ante – Covil watching his skidder gathered by Wilson as the scores remained at deadlock. The scampering Aaron Collins turned nicely inside, but couldn’t muster the accurate strike his eye-catching approach play demanded.

City started brightly but only the acrobatic skills of Bakayoko denied Wollacott from the get-go of the second half. Rovers’ riposte was immediate – Collins spanking over from the edge of the box.

Wollacott was on his mettle again – denying Gervane Kastaneer with a save of cat-like proportions.

Adams, full of lung-busting intent, skipped beyond two trailing City markers with Incredible Hulk like power, but Kyle McFadzean ended his dash, picking up a booking in the process.

Moments later Adams and Kastaneer traded insults with the Coventry man receiving a booking for his part.

Coventry were turning the screw – Kastaneer fizzing into the side netting as the tie approached the final eight minutes.

With the tie finishing all square, Rovers kept their nerve to grab a bonus point in an 8-7 penalty shootout victory. 

Forest Green: (3-4-1-2) Wollacott; McGinley, Adams, Godwin-Malife; Morton, Grubb (Kitching 4), Shephard (Bernard 19), Mondal; Covil; Collins (Stevens 61), Allen

Subs not used: Thomas, Jones ,Winchester.

Star Man: Joe Wollacott

Attendance: 924

Coventry fans 340