Carlisle United spurned the chance to go top of League Two with a one-nil loss away to Forest Green Rovers. Jamille Matt’s scrappy 75th-minute winner was the difference between two of the best sides you’re likely to see at this level, but games at the top can have a big influence towards the business end of the season.
Second place Carlisle United were forced to make one change coming into the game, as midfield powerhouse, Jon Mellish was suspended due to picking up too many yellow cards. Forest Green, who lay in fourth, were unchanged from their one-all draw away to Port Vale.
It was the home side who were quick of the mark through on-loan Birmingham City midfielder, Odin Bailey. Box-to-box midfielder Ebou Adams got onto a loose ball in midfield and slid Bailey through on goal, but his shot was blocked by Nick Anderton.
A huge chance came for the Cumbrians on the 7th minute through mercurial Frenchman, Gime Toure. A Josh Kayode long throw was flicked on and eventually fell to the United winger, but he seemingly couldn’t get enough power to poke the ball past Luke McGee in the Rovers goal.
Another good chance came for United through Josh Kayode. The Irish Striker met an inswinging cross from talented full-back Jack Armer, but he saw his header drift very narrowly wide.
Paul Farman’s booming goal kick created another opportunity for the Cumbrians. Kayode won the flick on which found Lewis Alesssanrda, but his attempt to carefully flick the ball over McGee ended up going high and wide of the target.
The final meaningful action of the first-half came when United midfielder Joe Riley stole the ball on the edge of the Forest Green box. However, he could only send his curling effort over the bar. The teams went in at half-time level.
Carlisle United thought they’d taken lead on the 51st minute through Gime Toure. A deep corner from Callum Guy was nodded back across by Aaron Hayden, the onrushing Toure cannoned the ball into the net, but Hayden was judged to have pushed his Forest Green defender.
United had two more great opportunities both through Joe Riley. Firstly, he managed to latch on to a misdirected header in the box from a Forest Green defender, but his shot was saved at point-blank range by McGee. Then finding himself with room on of the penalty area he curled a low shot just past the upright.
It was the skilful Aaron Collins who soon had the United defence at sea once with a long-distance drive which was beaten away by Farman. Then he got in down the right and fired across goal only to see it rebound off the post and out for a goal kick.
Former Scotland youth international, Jack Armer collected the ball and drove through the middle of the pitch and slipped the ball to Gime Toure. The talented Frenchman looked to bend the ball into the bottom corner, but it seemed to fade wide.
Aaron Collins was once again troubling the United backline and managed to wriggle through after nice interplay from Rovers. He shot high, but miraculously, Paul Farman just managed to deflect the ball over the bar.
The deadlock was finally broken by Jamille Matt. A Nicky Cadden corner was flicked on by two different Forest Green players before the ball eventually found Matt, who managed to scramble the ball home to send the home crowd into ecstasy.
Forest Green held control of the game without much fight for the Cumbrians, who resorted to pumping the ball forwards in hope that it would drop to a United player. Rovers held on to seal a very important win at the top of the table, in front of the New Lawn crowd.
Carlisle United will be disappointed that they couldn’t capitalise on poor performances from the teams around them, yet they will not be too dispirited as they still lie in third. The win for Forest Green Rovers sees them leapfrog Carlisle into second place which could signal a very exciting title-race as Newport County Start to falter.