Cambridge United and Forest Green Rovers shared the spoils in an entertaining match at the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
The match finished goalless but plenty of chances came and went at both ends. Craig Ross saved well from Paul Green and Yan Klukowski, while Harrison Dunk and Jamie Reed hit the bar for the U’s.
In the second half Kevin Roberts had to clear a Stokes shot off the line, but United could have won it when Charlie Wassmer and Rory McAuley passed up glorious opportunities to score.
Richard Money made two changes to the team that beat Tamworth 2-1 on Tuesday night, handing recalls to Kevin Roberts and Rossi Jarvis at the expense of Josh Coulson and Liam Hughes, who dropped to the bench. This meant Charlie Wassmer shuffled across to centre back, with Roberts taking his usual berth on the right.
Playing a fluid 4-3-3 formation, Forest Green always looked a threat, particularly when the pacey Jamie Norwood got on the ball. To counter their three-man midfield Michael Gash was deployed in a deep role for the U’s, with Harrison Dunk and and Jamie Reed encourage to push on and support Tom Elliott.
Rovers made a sharp start, and after Norwood had been fouled Klukowski’s free kick was headed goalwards by Paul Green, only for Craig Ross to make a good diving save.
Back came United, and Michael Gash saw a low free kick charged down, before Dunk got in behind the visiting back line to reach a long ball over the top. But as he advanced into the box Stokes race across to block his low shot.
Then from a Gash cross Reed got a looping header on target which goalkeeper Sam Russell could only parry onto the cross-bar. Fortunately for the stopper Hodgkiss was on hand to chest the ball back into his grateful hands.
For the most part the U’s back four did a good job of marshalling the dangerous Rovers attack, but they were opened up in the 39th minute when Hodgkiss got in behind Reed and fired in a low cross to Klukowski, but he saw his shot from eight-yards well saved by Ross, who pushed the ball to safety.
Just before the break Dunk’s speculative cross almost caught Russell napping, and the keeper had to back-peddle to parry the ball away.
The second half was more untidy than the first, but after good play down the U’s right Gash set up Jarvis for a shot which was blocked by a sea of bodies, but after that Rovers enjoyed their best spell of the match.
They looked certain to score when the ball fell to Chris Stokes 12 yards out after Ross had spilled a cross from the right. But Stokes’ powerful shot was straight at Kevin Roberts, who cleared off the line.
Soon afterwards James Turley found space at the back post, but could only poke a shot wide after Fowler’s free kick. And in the closing stages United passed up two great chances to take all three points.
First Charlie Wassmer headed straight at Russell after meeting a Jarvis corner. Then a free kick from the right flicked off a defender and found Rory McAuley unmarked six yards out, but his volley flew over the bar.
A draw was probably a fair result, and United can reflect on a promising performance ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Southport.
Man of the Match: Charlie Wassmer – Marshalled the back four with aplomb.
Cambridge United: Ross, Roberts, Haynes-Brown, Wassmer, McAuley, Reed (Hughes 51), Dunk, Shaw, Jarvis, Gash, Elliott. Subs not used: Coulson, Berry, Hudson, Brighton.
Forest Green Rovers: Russell Hodgkiss, Stokes, Turley, Green, Fowler (Wright 72), Forbes (Taylor 45 (Odubade 87)), Racine, Norwood, Vieira, Klukowski. Subs not used: Oshodi, Asafu-Adjaye.
Referee: Mr J.Amey
Attendance: 2,021 (away 64)
FULL TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-0 FOREST GREEN ROVERS
16.48: As Dunk looks to break again the referee brings a halt to proceedings. Enjoyable match, plenty of chances for both sides, and surprised it remain goalless. Fans definitely got their money's worth, despite the lack of goals
16.47: YELLOW CARD. Three mins to be added as Dunk tears past Hodgkiss and is pulled back. That'll be a booking for the FGR skipper and a U's free kick out wide. In it comes from Jarvis, McAuley heads
16.43: That's the end of substitute Taylor's afternoon, he doesn't look pleased to be removed having only joined the action at half-time. Heads straight down the tunnel, Odubade on in his place.
16.41: Elliott flattened by Racine, that'll be a U's free kick. Roberts floats in, it gets a flick on and McAuley, six yards out, volleys over. What a chance for McAuley.
16.38: Neat footwork from Gash, who fires in a low cross but neither Hughes nor Dunk can connect. United with a corner now though, in it comes and Wassmer climbs and should have scored! Unfortunately his free header doesn't have the power to beat Russell, who tips it over the bar.
16.37: CHARLIE WASSMER is the MAYICLAIM Man of the Match, a well deserved award in my view.
16.27: Change for Forest Green, the influential Fowler replaced by Ben Wright.
16.22: Some handbags on half-way as FGR get another free kick for a foul by Elliott. CHB and Hodgkiss both get a word in their ear from ref Amey. Free kick floated in by Fowler, everyone in an amber shirt leaves it and Turley, unmarked at the back post, can only poke the ball wide.
16.20: YELLOW CARD. Crikey, right wing cross is spilled by Ross under pressure. Ball breaks to Stokes 12 yards out but Roberts is on hand to block his powerful shot on the line, looked a certain goal for the visitors. Robbo goes into the book moments later for a foul on Vieira on half-way.
16.11: Haynes-Brown stings the hands of Russell with a speculative effort from 25 yards. Shortly afterwards United make their first change, with Hughes on wide-left for Jamie Reed.
16.08: United make progress down the right, Dunk dances into the box and drives in a low cross, Gash lays it off but Jarvis's side-footer is blocked by a sea of bodies. Today's attendance is 2,021 (away 64).
16.00: Half-time change for Rovers, with Matt Taylor on for Forbes. United get us moving again, come on the U's.
HALF TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 0-0 FOREST GREEN ROVERS
15.44: Dunk almost gets lucky there, attempted cross slightly miscued and Russell has to race back and palm the ball over the bar. Corner to the U's, it bounces in the six yard box but fortunately for the visitors a green shirt gets there first and clears. The half-time whistle goes shortly afterwards. Entertaining match, chances at both ends though Forest Green have probably had the better of them.
15.43: Racine lunges into a tackle on Dunk, might've got a bit of ball but that's a dangerous thing to do when on a booking. Ref awards United a free kick, no further punishment.
15.38: United opened up there as Hodgkiss gets in behind down our left and slides in a low cross. Klukowski meets it eight yards out and looks certain to score only to be denied by a superb sprawling save from Ross, who parries the ball to safety. Don't think Klukowski caught that cleanly, but still an excellent stop.
15.33: YELLOW CARD. Dunk and Elliott try to lead a break until Elliott is taken out by Racine. Yellow card for the defender and free kick to United on half-way.
15.30: Reed hits the bar! Cross from Gash and the on-loan York man's looping header is palmed onto the bar by Russell, who seemed to misjudge the flight somewhat. Hodgkiss then keeps his cool admirably to chest back to the relieved Russell.
15.28: Roberts nudged to the ground by Racine, that'll be a U's free kick. Jarvis swings it in but McAuley, under pressure, can only head wide.
15.22: Half-way through the first half, little to choose between the teams here. But here goes Harrison Dunk in behind the defence onto a long ball. He cuts infield and shoots but Stokes races across to block his goal-bound shot, that was a decent chance for the U's, good defending from Stokes though.
15.15: Klukowski's delivery is decent, but McAuley is under it at the back post to head clear.
15.14: Reed and Gash work the ball into Tom Shaw, whose shot takes a deflects behind for a corner. In it comes from Jarvis, but that's headed away by a green shirt and Forest Green can break, accelerating clear down their left, Fowler finds Klukowski, whose shot deflects away for a Rovers corner.
15.06: Gash's free kick is low and not very good, easily charged down by the wall.
15.05: Better from United after a good start from the visitors. Pressure results in a McAuley shot charged down, but Dunk is caught by Green as he tries to retrieve, U's free kick 25 yards out.
15.02: Free kick FGR after a foul on, er, Fowler. In it comes from Klukowski, Green gets a header on target but Ross saves well.
15.00: FGR with an early corner after good work from Norwood, McAuley volleying behind. Wassmer heads away for the U's though and Dunk can help complete the clearance.
14.59: Kick off at the R Costings Abbey Stadium, the visitors get us underway attacking the NRE.
14.55: Last season this match ended 1-1, Ashley Carew's late penalty, awarded for a foul on substitute Luke Berry, cancelled out Charlie Griffin's early goal for Rovers. Here come the teams.
Cambridge United: Ross, Roberts, Haynes-Brown, Wassmer, McAuley, Reed, Dunk, Shaw, Jarvis, Gash, Elliott. Subs: Coulson, Hughes, Berry, Hudson, Brighton.
Forest Green Rovers: Russell Hodgkiss, Stokes, Turley Green, Fowler, Forbes, Racine, Norwood, Vieira, Klukowski. Subs: Taylor, Oshodi, Asafu-Adjaye, Wright, Odubade.
14.30: TEAM NEWS. Two changes for the U's as Richard Money rotates his squad. Josh Coulson drops to the bench, with Kevin Roberts returning to the starting line-up. This should see Charlie Wassmer move to his favoured centre-back position, with Roberts at right-back. Also back in the team is Rossi Jarvis, who returns to the centre of midfield at the expense of Liam Hughes, who is on the bench.
Rovers have for U's man Magno Vieira leading their attack, while James Norwood is also a tricky customer with his pace out wide. On the bench Hockaday has a plethora of striking options, including Yemi Odubade, who scored the winner for former club Gateshead against the U's in an FA Trophy tie in December.
14.20: Good afternoon and welcome to the R Costings Abbey Stadium for this afternoon's match between Cambridge United and Forest Green Rovers. After Tuesday's morale-boosting victory over Tamworth, the U's are looking to make it back-to-back wins against Dave Hockaday's play-off chasers.