GEORGE WILLIAMS got important minutes under his belt as he marked his return from a broken leg as Forest Green Rovers and Bristol Rovers played out a goalless draw in the Central League.

Williams broke his fibula bone, along with some soft tissue damage in just the third minute of the opening game of the season with Oldham Athletic following a challenge by Zak Mills.

The Welsh international almost capped his return early on at Stanley Park, but was denied from the spot, before Theo Widdrington also missed from 12 yards after half an hour.

Forest Green’s Academy contingent kicked into life early on, as Isaiah Jones set Vaughn Covil away down the left after five minutes.

Covil, showing his pace, delivered a good, high ball to the back post but it was just too high for Taylor Allen who saw his header comfortably gathered.

Less than five minutes later, Williams ghosted in behind the visitors’ backline and skipped past the keeper, crashing to the ground to win a penalty.

The Welshman gathered the ball but couldn’t get his return off to the perfect start, as Alexis Andre-Jr dived to his right to save.

After a quarter of an hour, Matty Stevens skipped inside from the left and tried his luck on his weaker side, but couldn’t find the target and flashed his effort wide of the mark.

Just shy of the half-hour mark, the visitors won a spot kick of their own.

Widdrington stepped up and tried to dink the ball down the middle, but Lewis Thomas read it and denied the Bristol Rovers midfielder.

Nathan McGinley embarked on one of his trademark runs from the back after 54 minutes, but, after driving 60 yards through the middle of the park, he was eventually stopped on the edge of the area by two Rovers men.

It needed brave defending from the visitors’ Tom Mehew, son of former Forest Green striker and ex-Gloucester City manager David Mehew, as he through himself to the ground to deny Dan Jones and then Covil.

An hour into the encounter, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis was presented with a good opportunity to go ahead, but Isaiah Jones produced a good block to keep the score at 0-0.

With 20 minutes to spare, Rovers were unlucky not to see themselves ahead as, following a goalmouth scramble, Dan Jones fired over from inside the area.

Carter looked to have given the hosts the lead in style with 10 minutes to play, but couldn’t beat the keeper as he curled one towards the top corner.

The final chance of the game fell the way of the visitors as they drilled a free-kick wide in stoppage time.

Forest Green XI: Thomas, M.Mills (Carter 68’), I.Jones, Stevens, Williams (D.Jones 46’), Allen (Hallett 79’), Bunker, Dawson, McGinley, Covil (Saunders 73’), Frear (Bell 68’) 

Bristol Rovers XI: Andre-Jr, Little (Hodges 67’), Kelly, Russe, Davies (Noble 72’), Mahew, Matthews (Trialist 67’), Widdrington, Phillips, Tomlinson, Holmes-Dennis (Trialist 67’)

Unused subs: Thomas-Barker, Clutton

Next time out: Peterborough United, Tuesday, February 18, 1.30pm, Stanley Park