F.A. Trophy 3rd Round

Forest Green Rovers

Rigoglioso (37)

Hednesford Town

(1) 1

(0) 0



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Danny Harvey


Leigh Genesis (A) 7.2.09

Hednesford bowed out of this season's F.A. Trophy at the last sixteen stage this afternoon, with a first-half goal from Blue Square Premier side Forest Green Rovers enough to see them move into the quarter-final stage of the competition


Manager Dean Edwards was forced to shuffle the pack again, with Rapinder Gill and Luke Edwards cup-tied. This saw Curtis Ujah and Dale Anderson - who had returned to Keys Park this week ten years after he last played for the club - were brought into the starting XI. Ross Dyer's injury meant he was only amongst the substitutes, joining a strong-looking bench that included Sam Hall, Mark Briggs and Adam Burley

Step one Rovers were struggling for form in the Blue Square Premier, sitting just above the relegation zone currently after a run of winless form in the league that had seen fail to win any of their last five games; progress in the Trophy had come courtesy of a 5-0 win over Redditch United earlier in the month to set up today's game. Manager Jim Harvey made four changes to the side that had drawn 2-2 at Salisbury City in their last game as Richard Robinson, Les Afful, Conal Platt  and Adrian Rigoglioso all came into the starting XI at the expense of Terry Burton, Simon Clist, Alex Lawless and Curtis McDonald

The away side, having beaten two sides from step two in the competition already this term, were keen to test themselves against the highest level of opposition to see how far they had come. They made a good start, with Elliott Durrell bright and breezy with his passing and movement in midfield

The Pitmen's first real opportunity came from a set-piece after eight minutes. A Chad Sheppard corner was headed towards goal by Danny Harvey, but the referee blew for a foul on goalkeeper Ryan Robinson as the two went up to challenge for the ball

There had been little in the way of an attacking threat from the home side in the first fifteen minutes, with danger man Adriano Rigoglioso well shackled by the improving Curtis Ujah

Top scorer Tyrone Barnett was next to trouble the Blue Square Premier side's defence, pouncing on a Durrell free-kick before firing across the face of goal and away from the oncoming Anderson

Rigoglioso was starting to find his feet up front and tested the reflexes of Stuart Brock by firing a rising shot narrowly over the Hednesford keeper's crossbar on thirteen minutes

The Pitmen continued to give as good as they got, with Tom Marshall going agonisingly close with a header midway through the half that cleared the crossbar

The visitors suffered a blow on the half-hour mark, as Brock collided with Forest Green striker Andy Mangan as they both went for the ball. After winning the ball, Brock came off worst in the challenge and received lengthy treatment that left him limping

Forest Green took advantage of the Pitmen's insecurities at the back to grab what was to be the winner eight minutes before half-time. Hednesford failed to spot the warning signs as Forest Green built from the halfway line and steadily moved towards the penalty area. The ball found Mangan, just inside the area, whose attempted shot was well blocked by Ujah. Rigoglioso seized upon the loose ball and fired past Brock into the far corner of the net

Despite the blow, Hednesford continued to press, although a number of simple balls from the back were easily cut out by Forest Green's midfielders, who looked to punish simple errors on the break

The early stages of the second half saw Hednesford back on the front foot, with the words of Edwards no doubt ringing in their ears. Anthony Maguire whipped in an early cross that failed to find either Anderson or Barnett as they moved into the penalty area

At the other end, Rigoglioso tested the injured Brock with a stubbed shot that the Hednesford number one easily fielded low down

On fifty-four minutes, Durrell had a great chance to put the Pitmen level as he latched onto a ball from Anderson but fired over the bar from sixteen yards out

Back came Rovers, and Conal Platt played in the ever-willing Rigoglioso. On this occasion, the former Morecambe and Lancaster player could not divert the ball home, as his flick flew wide of goal

Edwards decided to change things, with Sam Hall making an appearance at right-back in place of Sean Platt. He also made a switch in midfield a few moments later, with the cultured passing of Mark Briggs joining the game in favour of skipper Sheppard

Only a few moments after the wave of tactical changes, Edwards was forced into a final change as Barnett pulled up with what appeared to be an injury to his groin. Ross Dyer, himself only just back from a similar injury, replaced him

Dyer's pace and trickery immediately gave the Pitmen a different look, as he linked up well with fellow sub Hall to play in Durrell, whose shot was blocked by a Forest Green defender

Rigoglioso had another go at killing the Pitmen off twelve minutes from time, but his twenty-yard effort was deflected away from goal for a corner kick

 Briggs was next to go close for the Pitmen on eighty-one minutes, collecting a pass from Ross Draper before firing a weak shot straight at the giant Robinson

Two minutes later, the away side thought they had grabbed the equaliser their efforts deserved; Maguire swung in an inch-perfect cross towards the penalty spot, finding the head of Marshall, who lopped the ball over the onrushing Robinson and into the net. The joy was short-lived as the assistant referee had raised his flag, much to the bemusement and anger of the Pitmen as Marshall came from an onside position and had not made contact with Robinson

The Pitmen's late efforts came to nothing, and their F.A. Trophy dream comes to an end at the last sixteen stage - no mean feat for a UniBond Premier League, but now there are no excuses or cup distractions when it comes to the title challenge from now on. A first-ever trip to Leigh Sports Village is next up for the Pitmen as they travel up the M6 to face crisis club Leigh Genesis at their new home

Forest Green Rovers: Robinson; Lawless, Gill, Preece, Stonehouse, Afful, Fowler, Smith, Platt; Rigoglioso (McDonald 86), Mangan (Symons 64)      Subs Unused: Ashford, Burton

Hednesford Town: Brock; Harvey, Ujah, Marshall; Platt (Hall 58), Sheppard (Briggs 64), Durrell, Draper ©, Maguire, Barnett (Dyer 70), Anderson        Subs Unused: Burley, Harbutt

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