Wesley Thomas’ three goals, some stout defending in the last 15 minutes and a stunning save from Gavin King in the dying seconds of the game were the differences between the two sides in this end to end encounter by the sea.
Forest, without five regular starters were, once again, playing against a team happy to effect the offside trap and the long ball without realising the two distinct failures of the system: you open yourself to your opponents breaking quickly and you force all your opponents behind the ball thus making it harder to find a way through.
This system proved to set the pattern for the match in which Stags’ raiders should have gone ahead three times before Thomas finally broke the deadlock with an immaculate header from a Georgiou cross on 40 minutes. Great Wakering could have drawn level on the final whistle of the half when Gianni Frankis headed over the bar when there was no pressure on him.
With the first move of the second half Rovers drew level courtesy of Steve Buuterworth who’d found acres of space on the inside right to shoot home from 15 yards.
The Stags took the lead, once again, on 56 minutes when Thomas reacted more quickly to a through ball, drew ‘keeper Marrable out, took the ball around him and shot home from an acute angle.
The lead only lasted 10 minutes when Butterworth popped up again, in an almost identical position, to score the equaliser. Thomas scored the winner on 80 minutes when he reacted more quickly to a loose ball in the Rovers penalty area.
This heralded the Rovers onslaught but all looked in vain until seconds from the end of the match when Richmond seemed to have got the equaliser in a Pele v Banks moment. Gavin King was up to the job and pulled off a superb “Banks” save. The final whistle blew and the points were in the bag.
Truth be told, the Stags could have scored six goals had they taken their chances, however, even though Thomas got three goals, it must be the defence that takes the plaudits for once.