EMBATTLED Forest Green boss Mark Cooper is planning major squad surgery as the January transfer window swings open on Monday.

With 2017 ending with a fourth straight defeat, Cooper is eyeing seven signings to try and haul his side out of the relegation zone.

Lincoln stretched their unbeaten run to seven as a Matt Rhead’s brace was sufficient to keep Forest Green rooted to the bottom of League Two.

Christian Doidge’s 17th goal of the season levelled things up for Rovers, but a howler from Chelsea loanee keeper Brad Collins presented Rhead a simple second after the break.

Cooper said: "We're looking up the football pyramid (for signings). We have signed four and probably have another three coming, which if they hopefully go through, will be some really good signings for our football club," he said.

"We have to be busy, we make no bones about that.

"We're treading water until January - we need some recruits desperately. I told the players they are not making it hard for me to replace them in January.

“I have to do something about it, the players know that now. I have been worrying about upsetting the players because we need them, but we have one more game, but there will be some going out, but some really good players coming in.”

Cooper was happy in parts and felt his side controlled the game at Sincil Bank, but mistakes at key moments frustrated the Rovers boss.

He added: “We passed the ball well in the middle of midfield and looked in control, but when you make those mistakes it saps the life out of you.

“Brad Collins is paid to make saves, but that’s the life of a goalkeeper you make a mistake and it’s highlighted, but at some point the mistakes have got to stop.”

Earlier, opting to negate Lincoln’s direct threat, Cooper switched to a back-four.

A fast and furious beginning saw Forest Green goalkeeper Brad Collins on his mettle to parry a close range Harry Anderson stab. Not defending crosses has been Rovers’ nemesis and this was apparent as Lincoln found their range. Neal Eardley arrowed over a ball for the unmarked Rhead to stab home, giving the Imps an eighth-minute advantage.

Eyeing back-to-back promotions, Lincoln have laid their foundations on being water-tight at the back, but their defence was breached for the first time in four matches when Doidge fashioned a chance out of nothing to level things up on 24 minutes. Josh Vickers had no chance as the Welshman created his own space to thump a sumptuous right-footed strike beyond the sprawling Lincoln keeper.

Confidence growing, Reece Brown fizzed wide as Rovers turned the screw.

However, Lincoln remained a threat – Anderson fizzing into Brad Collins and then Matt Green bustling into the box and forcing another save. Culpable Forest Green marking allowed Green another opportunity in the box, but he could only direct his shot straight at Brad Collins.

The anticipated Lincoln second-half surge took time to gather momentum as Rovers looked to take the sting out of the game, but Green remained a threat – cracking two strikes into Brad Collins.

Rovers’ Scott Laird bucked the trend – spanking one wide from the edge of the box.

Lincoln regained the lead on 57 minutes. Brad Collins’ woeful goal kick allowed Anderson to stride through and pick out Rhead for a gift wrapped second.

Brad Collins redeemed himself with a stunning save to thwart an Ollie Palmer curler after Green opened Rovers up.

Despite this, Rovers looked for a way back into the game and enjoyed long periods of keep ball, with Charlie Cooper seeing two strikes charged down.

With time ebbing, Rovers almost snatched a 90th minute point. Doidge wriggled free, but Vickers somehow denied him with a stunning one-handed save. From the resulting corner Lee Collins headed against the post, the ball falling to Manny Monthe, who headed home, but the referee ruled the goal out for an earlier foul.


Rhead 8, 57


Doidge 24

Attendance:  8,964

Away fans: 86

 Referee: Martin Coy

RATINGS out of 5

B Collins **

Laird ***

L Collins ***

Monthe ***

Roberts **

Wishart ***

Cooper ***

Osbourne ***

Brown ***

Doidge ****

James **

Subs: Wishart (Marsh-Brown 64 **) James (Stevens 71 **)  Brown ( Fitzwater 90)

Subs not used:  Pickering, Bugiel, Simpson, Evans

Bookings: L Collins 25

LINCOLN CITY: Vickers, Dickie, Habergham, Raggett, Eardley, Bostwick, Anderson, Arnold (Waterfall 90), Woodyard, Green (Whitehouse 76), Rhead ( Palmer 73)

Subs not used: Farman, Long, Ginnelly, Stewart

Bookings: None

COMING UP: Forest Green entertain Wycombe Wanderers  in Sky Bet Two on New Year’s Day, 3pm. On Saturday, they welcome Port Vale, 3pm.