FOREST GREEN 3
FOREST GREEN remain firmly in the title hunt after a scintillating victory over Wrexham saw Mark Cooper’s side move level on points with leaders Lincoln City.
Lincoln remain top on goal difference, having played three games less, ahead of Rovers' pivotal clash at Sincil Bank next weekend.
Dale Bennett put Rovers ahead before the interval and captain Liam Noble doubled the lead with a penalty.
Hot-shot striker Christian Doidge smashed his 21st goal of the season in a rich scoring sequence, which has seen him score 19 in his last 22 matches.
Earlier, boss Cooper made three alterations to the team that defeated Sutton United on Tuesday. Sam Wedgbury, Omar Bugiel and Dan Wishart dropped to the bench with Darren Carter, Charlie Cooper and Kaiyne Woolery coming in. Mark Ellis was allowed to play after his red at Sutton was rescinded.
Rovers tore into Wrexham from the opening whistle.
Carter stormed through midfield to pick out captain Noble who demanded a sprawling save from Chris Dunn.
Doidge planted a header over the bar and then Carter smacked one out of the ground as Rovers remained on the front foot.
Rovers were dealt a hammer blow on 16 minutes as they lost key defender Ethan Pinnock, who went down clutching his left knee following an aerial tussle with Jordan White.
Bennett was ushered in alongside Mark Ellis at the heart of the defence in the absence of Pinnock, with sub Sam Wedgbury slotting in at right-back.
Tempers were raised and former Cheltenham Town defender Martin Riley saw a first-half yellow when going through Kaiyne Woolery.
Dunn was catching the eye for Wrexham - doing well to touch a Noble stinger wide after a swift interchange with Woolery.
Rovers were spitting penalty claim feathers when a clumsy McLeod challenge flattened Charlie Cooper inside the box.
The electric Woolery saw yellow when he met the onrushing Dunn on the edge of the box from a defence-splitting Cooper pass. Woolery had every right to go for the ball as the impressive Dunn dived low and bravely in front of his outstretched boot. Carter was also carded during the incident.
On the cusp of the break, four bookings in two minutes spiced things up in a first-half featuring 17 fouls.
On the cusp of the break former Forest Green left-back James Jennings launched himself into a meaty lunge on Cooper and after the handbags had ceased – bookings were dished out to Jennings , Anthony Barry and Rovers’ Ellis.
Seconds later Jordan White was in the book for Wrexham as the card count rattled up. And the Dragons were quickly punished as a goalmouth scramble saw the ball finally drop to Bennett, who rifled through a sea of bodies to give his side a 45th-minute lead.
Rovers got the second-half off to a flyer and made it 2-0 on 47 minutes. Noble was at the hub of it. His driving run from a Wedgbury pass eventually saw Woolery clipped in the box by Riley and Noble kept his head to send Dunn the wrong way from the spot.
Dean Keates had seen enough and quickly made a double substitution in an attempt to stop a rampant Rovers.
Wrexham had Dunn to thank as he quickly blocked a Doidge stab and then got up quickly to glove Carter’s follow up.
Rovers were on fire and made it 3-0 on 64 minutes - Doidge’s sumptuous lob beating Dunn from the edge of the box from a sublime Noble pass. With the game won and with Solihull on Tuesday in the mind, Cooper replaced Doidge four minutes after his goal.
Rovers bossed it and only a find one-handed Dunn save from a Carter strike denied Rovers a fourth following some exceptional build up play.
Bugiel went close twice at the death as Rovers cut Wrexham open time-and-time again.
FOREST GREEN: ( 4-1-2-1-2) Russell 7 ; Bennett 8, Ellis 7, Pinnock 6 (Wedgbury 7, 19), Kelly7; Traore 7; (Sinclair 6, 73) Cooper 7, Carter 7; Noble 9; Doidge 7 (Bugiel 6, 68), Woolery 7.
Subs not used: Wishart, Robert.
Star Man: Liam Noble (Forest Green).
Entertainment: 4 /5.
Referee: Samuel Allison 5 /10.