Report by Sam Wiles

Forest Green held on to claim a 2-1 victory against Harrogate Town despite a barrage of late pressure from the visiting side.

Rovers defenders Chris Stokes and Kane Wilson netted their first league goals of the season and a late Jay Williams goal made for a nervy ending to the match for Mark Cooper’s men.

The start of the first half was fairly uneventful, with Forest Green defender Baily Cargill having the best chance of the opening exchanges. After 13 minutes, following a corner that was cleared only as far as Aaron Collins, Rovers’ number 10’s deftly chipped ball found Cargill at Harrogate’s back post but his resulting shot was lashed wide.

On 22 minutes, Forest Green took the lead through their captain Stokes. After Nicky Cadden’s free kick was cleared poorly, the Rovers skipper controlled the ball well under pressure and fired a venomous shot into the bottom corner of the visitor’s net.

Following the opener, the game became a tight and cagey affair with neither side creating many clear-cut chances. Despite that, on 38 minutes, Harrogate’s Dan Jones attempted a speculative long-range volleyed effort but was only able to watch the ball fly into the back of the South-Stand.

Forest Green started the second period the strongest and made their dominance pay through a Wilson goal on 50 minutes. The Rovers defender drove into the Harrogate box well with one thing on his mind and, much like his captain, he was able to bury his shot calmly to also bag his first of the season.

Harrogate were able to regain some control of the match following going two down but they lacked any real potent threat in front of the Rovers goal. This was however testament to a disciplined and resolute Forest Green back line, led well by goal-scorer Stokes.

On 78 minutes, substitute Odin Bailey had a glorious opportunity to add a third but his close-range shot was heroically blocked by Connor Hall to keep the deficit at two goals.

Harrogate piled the pressure on during the closing stages and they managed to pull one back in the 91st minute. Jay Williams rose the highest following a Harrogate corner and he was able to head powerfully past Lewis Thomas.

Following the referee awarding a somewhat soft free kick to Forest Green on 94 minutes, an on-pitch scuffle ensued. Elliott Whitehouse was then subsequently shown a second yellow card and dismissed by the official once the fracas died down.