Forest Green Rovers………2
Doidge (41’, 43’)
Akpa-Akpro (58’), Campbell-Ryce (63’), Taylor (Red Card 90+5)
Stadium: New Lawn Attendance: 3,171 Referee: Darren Drysdale
A Christian Doidge double was cancelled out by a Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro header and Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s strike from range denied Forest Green a victory on their Football League debut.
The promotion honeymoon seemed to have faded, as a Forest Green starting line-up that contained up to six debutants including Charlie Copper’s second debut, struggled to string enough passes together that had become the norm last season.
Barnet contained and threatened early-on. Campbell-Ryce’s pin-point delivery wasn’t enough to move the Bees into the lead as Akpa-Akpro’s header somehow missed the target at the back post.
Moments later Campbell-Ryce continued to cause trouble down the wing, but this time it was Shaquile Coulthirst who failed to take advantage, to the relief of Bradley Collins.
It was these close shaves that woke the home side as Liam Noble, Drissa Traore and Cooper gained control in midfield and caused frustration for Barnet as the trio ensured Forest Green held on to possession.
To the joy of seeing home fans witnessing their “little club on the hill” break the deadlock came as the result of a corner. Doidge rose highest to make history and score Forest Green’s first goal as a Football League club.
Forest Green’s top scorer last season couldn’t believe his luck moments later, as former teammate Charlie Clough, miss-judged a header and as the ball bounced through, Doidge spun and lobbed Jamie Stephens to double the lead and send the New Lawn into delirium.
The score-line was harsh on the Bees and the 501 that travelled could celebrate on the hour-mark as Campbell-Ryce continued to cause problems and it was his shot that fell in the path of Akpa-Akpro to head-in.
The persistent Akpa-Apro soon got his just deserts and brought Forest Green suitably back down to earth as his low 18-yard strike came off the post.
Keanu Marsh-Brown came off the bench to face his former side with 23 minutes remaining, but his best effort was blocked after a neat combination between fellow substitute Shamir Mullings.
As both teams pushed for the win, Jack Taylor fell fowl as he was sent off for a second bookable offence after he clattered into Cooper.
The introduction into the Football League has been quite remarkable one for the all-vegan club, but to matters on the pitch, the failings to sustain a victory is not a new problem for Mark Cooper and his team from Nailsworth.
Forest Green Rovers: B.Collins, Bennett, Laird, Traore (Bugiel 78’), L.Collins, Monthe, Noble, Doidge, Brown (Mullings 60’), Cooper, Evans (Marsh-Brown 68’. Unused subs: Russell, Fitzwater, Wishart, James.
Barnet: Stephens, Taylor, Alemeida Santos, Clough (Nelson 45’), Johnson, Shomotun (Tutonda 45’). Taylor, Vilhete, Aka-Akpro, Campbell-Ryce, Coulthirst (Amaluzor 87’). Unused subs: Akinola, Bover, Fonguck, Ross.