Clayton Donaldson’s well-taken first-half goal proved to be the difference but the winning margin could have been greater had it not been for man-of-the-match Sam Russell in the hosts’ goal.
This was certainly a much stiffer test than a week prior at Cork City as Forest Green, who possess experienced goalscorers in Lee Hughes and Luke Rodgers in their ranks, were very capable opposition.
As was the case in Ireland last Tuesday, Lee Clark named two different outfield sides in each half with Darren Randolph, rather than Colin Doyle, in goal.
Lee Novak, Paul Robinson, Jonathan Spector and Grant Hall were rested as a precaution with minor knocks while youngsters Charlee Adams and Koby Arthur each got 45 minutes under their belt. Doyle wasn’t part of the travelling squad which meant a place on the bench for first year pro Connal Trueman as the back up goalkeeper.
Reece Brown was a creative spark in midfield for Blues during the first-half and tested goalkeeper Russell in the ninth minute with a low curling effort that was well saved.
Brown then combined with Donaldson for Blues’ 18th minute opener. Ex-Brentford striker Donaldson had already threatened the Forest Green backline with menacing runs when he latched on to Brown’s perfect throughball to round Russell and coolly slot home.
Brown himself should have doubled that scoreline in the 26th minute. The lively Arthur found his fellow teenager on the six yard line but he swept his effort wide.
It was then Forest Green’s turn to miss a glorious chance in the 33rd minute. Rodgers’ thunderous shot struck the left post and fell kindly to Hughes at the opposite upright. However, with the ex-West Bromwich Albion striker ready to tap home, first-half captain David Edgar got back brilliantly to clear off the line.
With a whole of host of changes to both sides in the second-half, the game failed to find any sort of rhythm after the break as is often the case with these pre-season fixtures.
Wes Thomas almost found the bottom left corner from 16 yards only for Russell’s strong hand to tip the chance around the post.
Demarai Gray shone in the second-half and was unlikely to get his name on the scoresheet in the 65th minute when he burst through on goal only for Russell, again, to come out on top.
Forest Green opted to give the superb Russell a break for the final 20 minutes with Paul White taking his place between the sticks.
And, having seen a low Gray cross fizz across his goal in the 79th minute, White was called on to beat away Andy Shinnie’s fierce close range shot at his near post in the last minute.
Blues’ first-half XI: Randolph; Eardley, Edgar (C), Gunning, Hancox; Lee, Reilly; Arthur, Brown, Cotterill; Donaldson.
Blues’ second-half XI: Randolph; Caddis, Adams, Packwood, Grounds; Gleeson, Adeyemi (C); Duffy, Shnnie, Gray; Thomas.
Attendance: 1,108 (392 away)