A Manchester United XI were pegged back by a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Forest Green Rovers.
This pre-season friendly was staged in support of ‘Sustainability in Sport’, the organisation which puts green issues at the centre of sport. Co-founders are Gary Neville, United’s former skipper and current club ambassador, and Dale Vince, Forest Green Rovers’ chairman and staunch ‘green’ advocate.
Both Neville, who famously drives a petrol/electricity hybrid car, and Vince, who has turned Forest Green’s New Lawn Stadium into the first ‘no meat’ vegan football ground in the country, were presented to the teams ahead of the kick-off. The pair were also interviewed during the interval to explain the reasons why they got together to launch the organisation which means so much to them both.
On the beautifully-manicured New Lawn pitch, both teams gave the sun-bathed crowd an entertaining afternoon’s football at one of the country’s most picturesque enclosures. United went in at the break leading 1-0 courtesy of Joshua King’s 32nd minute header from Larnell Cole's cross from the right. The Reds' Norwegian-born striker was left almost totally unattended and took maximum benefit to pick his spot and put United into the lead.
Forest Green replied two minutes into the second half when United’s defence hesitated to allow Yan Klukowski to grab the equaliser. Both goalkeepers, United’s Sam Johnstone and Sam Russell, between the Forest Green sticks, were in eye-catching form, pulling of a string of brave and spectacular saves.
Brazilian youngster Agnaldo had the home crowd purring in appreciation after displaying a couple of genuine examples of football played with a true Samba influence. And he crowned an impressive few minutes when, in the 73rd minute, he volleyed home Frederic Veseli’s pass to restore United’s lead.
The home side claimed a late leveller, in the second minute of added time when James Norwood set-up Klukowski to score from close range.
United: Johnstone, Veseli, Fornasier, Blackett, James; Cole, Giverin, Januzaj (Agnaldo 51), Daehli (Gladstony 51); Lawrence (Barmby 59), King. Subs not used: Gollini, van Velzen.