FOREST GREEN catapulted themselves to the top of League Two as they gained the Gloucestershire derby bragging rights over Cheltenham Town.

Celtic loanee Jack Aitchison grabbed his third goal in as many games with a fizzing finish on 15 minutes and Elliott Frear banked a second five minutes before the break, his first goal back at Rovers in his second spell at the New Lawn.

Cheltenham striker Luke Varney pulled a goal back for the Robins on 67 minutes, pouncing on a Joe Wollacott error, but Rovers stood firm to send the Robins to their first home defeat of the season.

Earlier, Forest Green head coach Mark Cooper made one change from the team that beat Morecambe last time out.  Aitchison in for James Morton.

In the clash of the League Two form horses - it was Cooper’s side who were on their toes from the get-go. Former Cheltenham Town midfielder Carl Winchester forcing Scott Flinders to gather his firework from the edge of the box.

Cheltenham were starting to find their feet. Chris Hussey and Ryan Broom causing a few frights, but it was Rovers who ghosted into a 15th-minute lead. Former boxer Matt Stevens muscled his way intro the box for Liam Shephard and Aitchison to trade exquisite passes for the Celtic man to produce an immaculate finish into the bottom corner - his third goal in as many games.

Rovers were bossing proceedings. However, Elliott Frear missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 on 28 minutes. In a lung-busting counter-attack the ball eventually dropped to Liam Shephard and his pin-point cross saw Frear plant his header high, wide and not very handsome.

Cheltenham found some self-belief and chased parity, but Rovers watertight defence repelled Broom and the predatory Luke Varney.

Rovers inflicted a second goal on 40 minutes. Frear made up for his earlier aberration with an immaculate finish from a sumptuous Ebou Adams dink.

Robins’ boss Duff showed his hand at the break, hooking Charlie Raglan for Rohan Ince.

Frear was a fraction from putting the game to bed on the hour – cutting in from the left but lifting his strike over the bar. Stevens too one touch too many when Frear teed him up as Rovers looked to finish the game off.

However, Rovers were pegged back on 67 minutes. Sub Chris Clements saw his free-kick spilled by Joe Wollacott and Varney was on hand to rattle home the gift-wrapped opportunity for his fourth goal in five games.

The derby was evenly poised – the imperious Farrend Rawson forcing Flinders to finger over from his delicate lob.

And as the clock ticked only a sprawling Wollacott save kept Rovers’ slender lead intact – the Bristol City loanee frustrating Varney after Clements had picked him out.

Tempers frayed at the end with Cheltenham boss Duff booked for pushing the ball into Dom Bernard’s chest in frustration as the game entered five minutes of nervy stoppage-time.

CHELTENHAM TOWN: Flinders, Long, Hussey, Tozer, Raglan (Ince 45), Thomas, Broom, Reilly (Smith 65), Doyle-Hayes (Clements 58), Greaves, Varney

Bookings: Raglan 23,Clements 86, Ince 90, Tozer 93, Duff 93

Subs not used: Lovett (GK), LIoyd, Boyle, Addadi

FOREST GREEN: Wollacott, Shephard, Bernard, Rawson, Kitching, Winchester, Adams, Frear (Collins 67), J Mills, Aitchison, Stevens Bookings:

Subs not used: Thomas (GK), Morton, McGinley, Godwin-Malife, Mondal, Taylor

Referee: K Johnson

Star Man: Ebou Adams

Attendance: 5,778

FGR fans: 944

Next up: Forest Green welcome Billericay Town in the first round of the FA Cup next Saturday, 3pm