By Matt Edwards
Ebou Adams Forest Green Rovers and Carlisle United will need a replay to decide their second round FA Cup tie after playing out a 2-2 draw at The New Lawn.
Aaron Collins’ header in the 11th minute gave the hosts the lead before Nathan Thomas struck a blow with his equaliser five minutes before the break.
The visitors took the lead in the 76th minute when Thomas netted his second of the game, but it was short-lived as Gethin Jones turned into his own net two minutes later to leave both sides in the hat for the third round.
There was one change for Forest Green as Matt Mills, still managing his return from injury, sat out of the match, with Collins coming in to partner Matty Stevens up top.
Dayle Grubb, who is also returning from injury, made his way onto the substitutes bench.
Meanwhile, for Carlisle’s new head coach, he made three changes to his first starting XI, with Aaron Hayden, Stefan Scougall and Byron Webster all coming into the team for the second round.
It was a steady start to proceedings, the first chance for the hosts in the fifth minute when Joseph Mills got down the left.
His high cross to the back post was collected by Jack Aitchison, but Hayden was there to slice behind for a corner that came to nothing.
The breakthrough came from a mistake for the visitors in the 11th minute. Liam Shephard’s ball in from the right was headed high by a Carlisle head, but as keeper Collin dropped the ball onto the bar under pressure, Collins was there to nod home from two yards, celebrating with a spinning frog dance, inspired by the computer game FIFA 20, near the corner flag.
Forest Green had found their swagger now and in the 15th minute were cutting the visitors apart again, Ebou Adams splitting the defence with a ball in behind for Dom Bernard to run onto.
He cut back for Shephard to deliver, Stevens’ header going just wide of the target.
In the 18th minute, Rovers had an appeal for a spot kick as Aitchison looked to be tripped in the area after latching on to Shephard’s pass, but the referee waved those claims away.
At the other end, Olufela Olomola looked to find a foot hole in the game for Carlisle, finding space on the edge of the box, but his shot was pulled well wide of the target.
In the 22nd minuted, Olomola got down the left and cut the ball back to Mike Jones. His shot lacked direction and Joseph Mills’ blocked the strike, the loose ball almost falling to Ryan Loft before FGR cleared.
Carlisle continued to knock on the door, Jack Iredale got down the left flank, his low cross turned behind by Olomola charging in at the near post.
In the 35th minute, FGR were presented with a great opportunity to double their advantage and take a big step towards the third round.
Aitchison was played into acres of space, running at the box, before squaring to Shephard, whose shot, one-on-one, was saved onto the bar by Collin, making up for his earlier mistake with a fine stop, and hurried clear by Hayden.
Carlilse found a route back into the game in the 40th minute when confusion at the back saw Iredale steal the ball and set away from Nathan Thomas, who went down the left and cut back on the edge of the box before curling the ball past Joe Wollacott off the bar.
Forest Green looked for the immediate response two minutes later, Shephard getting down the right, before putting in a good, low ball in that Collin could only push into the area, but Collins, coming in, could only connect with thin air and the chance went begging.
A minute into first-half added time and Stevens thought he had restored the lead for the hosts.
The striker jumped highest to meet a corner but his header was cleared off the line by Thomas on the post.
Forest Green started the second half brightly and forced a superb save from Collin in the 57th minute.
Joseph Mills got played in down the left by Liam Kitching, his ball back to Collins on the edge of the box seeing the forward cut back onto his left foot and his deflected shot was well saved by the legs of the Carlisle stopper.
However, they were left with everything to do in the 76th minute when substitute Hallam Hope got down the right and crossed low to the back post for Thomas, coming in to finish first time into the far corner.
It turned out to be a momentary lead for the Cumbrians, Gethin Jones turning into his own net after Joseph Mills’ free-kick in from the left was met by Kitching, the Carlisle defender’s touch looping into his own net.
Hearts were firmly in the mouths of the home fans in the 88th minute when Scougall put the ball in the back of the net, after latching onto Mike Jones’ cross, but the ball had already gone out for a goal kick, to Rovers’ relief.
The final chance of the game came deep into extra time as a ball in from Collins from the left dropped to Shephard at the far post, but his half volley was wide of the target.
Details of the replay and tickets will be announced in due course.
Forest Green XI: Wollacott, Shephard, Bernard (Grubb 84’), Rawson, Winchester, Stevens, Collins, Adams (Dawson 69’), Kitching, J Mills (c), Aitchison (Mondal 65’)