Forest Green left frustrated as Dartford force a replay
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1 DARTFORD 1
Arresting a three-match losing run was perhaps the only consolation for Forest Green to take from a day of FA Cup frustration.
James Norwood's early thunderbolt was cancelled out in the second half by former Rovers man Jacob Erskine – a widely predicted outcome with just a point separating these two Blue Square Bet Premier rivals.
But tomorrow night's fourth qualifying round replay will feel like a punishment for Dave Hockaday and company – and failure to seize their second chance in Kent could send damaging aftershocks through their stuttering campaign.
Hockaday's first big call was to hand back the captain's armband to Eddie Oshodi, back from suspension and seemingly now above last season's skipper Jared Hodgkiss in the pecking order.
It was a quiet opening to proceedings, but Norwood changed that in spectacular fashion when he surged from deep in the right channel and unleashed a 25-yard drive that flew past Darts goalkeeper Louis Wells.
Rovers were thoroughly dominant in possession, although there was a scare four minutes later when a half-cleared corner dropped to Tom Bonner at the far post and he fired over.
The urgency normally associated with the FA Cup was somewhat lacking and home goalkeeper Sam Russell was not required to make a save until clutching a speculative effort from Lee Noble on 25 minutes.
Matty Taylor was wayward from similar range at the other end, but as the first half drew to a close the excitement levels plummeted.
Dartford could only improve in the second period – and they dragged themselves level with a bit of help from the hosts.
Ed Asafu-Adjaye seemed to lose his footing and presented the ball to Ryan Hayes, who worked space well before pulling the ball back for Erskine to finish from ten yards.
Perhaps Rovers needed a wake-up call, as they mustered a quick response and Norwood was foiled by Wells after getting a firm header to Jamie Turley's cross.
Oshodi latched onto a Yan Klukowski free-kick and nodded over the bar, while substitute Reece Styche jinked his way into the area before bringing a stop from Wells.
Norwood remained Forest Green's brightest light – and the winger's mazy run in the 72nd minute ended with a decent drive.
The visitors remained a threat, however, and Harry Crawford saw a shot deflected wide after a mix-up between Oshodi and Asafu-Adjaye.
Two great late chances were spurned at either end, first when Wells produced a brave block to deny Klukowski from point-blank range.
Noble then shot wastefully wide from inside the area – and subsequent goalmouth scrambles were survived to ensure the rivalry will resume at Princes Park tomorrow.