A crazy second half at Plainmoor eventually went United’s way as they came out 4-3 winners thanks to a header from defender Ben Gerring earning them all three points.
Goals from Nathan Blissett, David Fitzpatrick, and Sean McGinty were cancelled out by strikes from Christian Doige, Charlie Clough, and Ethan Pinnock. Then Gerring rose to score from close range to send the home fans into raptures.
Player-manager Kevin Nicholson chose to link attacking midfielder Sam Chaney up with Nathan Blissett in attack. The rest of the starting eleven remained unchanged to the side that drew 0-0 with York City on December 17.
Forest Green were clearly intent on playing a possession game in the first half. Their measured passing caused United a few issues at time, but they largely remained untroubled in a half where the defences were on top.
Aman Verma had the first half-chance of the match. He chested the ball down on the edge of the box, and although he was closed down almost immediately, he was able to get a snapshot away. The ball was sent straight at FGR ‘keeper Sam Russell.
Brendan Moore pulled off a decent save in the 21st minute when diving low to keep out a Liam Noble shot from just inside the six yard box.
Dan Sparkes then had two sighters on goal. In the 28th minute his low shot was saved well by Russell, and then in the 41st, when he had a little time to try a curling effort that didn’t curl enough to trouble Russell.
No-one could have predicted what was about to happen in the second half. Ben Gerring and Sean McGinty had stopped most of what Forest Green had thrown at them. The game was about to open up, as FGR threw caution to the wind with by throwing players forward.
First Blissett, who had had a quiet match up to that point, turned in a low cross by Dan Sparkes after getting the run on his marker in the 54th minute. You could see the joy on his face when it went in after not scoring since United 3-2 defeat to Maidstone in September. His teammates crowded around him to celebrate.
There was little time catch your breath, and nine minutes later United had their second goal of the game. David Fitzpatrick received a pass from Blissett with United on the counter attack. He took his time over a composed finish into the far corner.
The players dedicated that goal to 7 year old mascot Leighton Coyle by doing a dance he likes to do when he’s happy. Leighton will be going into hospital in early January for a bone marrow transplant. We wish him the very best and hope he enjoyed the celebration.
Things were to get even better for United when three minutes later he headed United’s third of the match. He enjoyed that one! The Yellow Army were loving the speed at which the goals were going in.
3-0 up and United were hoping for a quieter period in order to take the match away from the Green. It wasn’t to happen.
Forest Green had kept an attacking formation throughout the second half and now had to chase the game to see if a comeback was on the cards. They started in the 73rd minute when substitute Christian Doidge headed in to make it 3-1. They say a glimmer of hope.
Two minutes later and Charlie Clough made it 3-2 smashing in from close range after a knockdown from a corner. The momentum swung FGR’s way and United were wilting under the pressure.
The Pinnock made it 3-3 in the 77th minute, heading down and into the corner. United were struggling to match FGR in the air and track their runners.
Not many of the Yellow Army would have put money on United being the team to pull off a fourth goal. United weren’t entirely finished with the match. They were still attacking in parts and looking likely to force another, but also to concede. Sean McGinty headed back across goal for Ben Gerring to score with a powerful header. It was a fantastic end to earn a win.
United play the return fixture in New Year’s Day; it will have to be some game to match a fantastic day at Plainmoor.