Russell Martin’s 87th minute winner kept MK Dons’ automatic-promotion ambitions on track as they dealt a killer blow to Forest Green’s  top three aspirations.

Earlier Kieran Agard’s 21st goal of the season saw the MK Dons’ hot-shot pounce on a defensive aberration between Rovers keeper Lewis Ward and captain Gavin Gunning after Ward’s short goal kick saw David Wheeler pick Gunning’s pocket for Agard to pounce on 38 minutes.

George Williams levelled things up against his former club on 63 minutes and Rovers looked well set for a point before Martin’s late winner.

Following the 2-0 win at Port Vale last time out, boss Mark Cooper makes three changes for today's clash against promotion rivals MK Dons.

LIoyd James, Reuben Reid and Nathan McGinley drop to the bench. George Williams and Junior Mondal come into the team following their impact off the bench last week and Joseph Mills returns from injury.

An emotionally-charged day at the New Lawn saw the fans remember former chairman Trevor Horsley with a minute's applause to mark his recent passing.

A cagey start saw these promotion- chasing teams feeling each other out. It took 27 minutes for the first slice of worthwhile action – Lewis Ward getting his frame in the way to blunt MK Dons a goalmouth melee after one-time Forest Green loanee Ryan Harley whipped in a corner.

A minute later the fans were off their seats in hopeful celebration – Williams stepped on the gas for the supporting Mills to arrow in a strike that rippled the outside of the net. The game was gaining legs – Christian Doidge demanding a flying save from Lee Nicholls.

Rovers were on the money – Mondal stinging the gloves of Nicholls on 37 minutes. It was end-to-end, but this time Rovers were caught cold. Ward’s short goal kick to Gavin Gunning saw David Wheeler pick his pocket for Agard to punish Rovers’ aberration, the Dons’ hot-shot posting his 21st goal of the season.

The stuffing was knocked out of Rovers and to compound matters – Farrend Rawson went into the book for a trip on Jake Hesketh on the cusp of the break.

From the second-half get-go, Rovers were looking for a fast start, but it was the Dons who were on the front-foot. Conor McGrandles hitting the outside of Ward’s post on 48 minutes.

Rovers survived a 50th minute reprieve – Hesketh opened Rovers up, but Agard skewed wide with just Ward to beat.

Cooper’s side were back in the game on 63 minutes. The excellent Shephard arrowed over a cross for Williams to place his header beyond Nicholls for his first goal in 15 games.

Rovers survived a scare with nine minutes to go. A period of ping-pong in their box saw McGrandles skew wide when scoring seemed easier.

Mark Cooper’s side were back in it on 63 minutes as George Williams stooped to nod home.

Paul Tisdale’s side underpinned their promotion hopes when Russell Martin poked home with three minutes to go.

MK Dons jump up to second and Rovers remain in the play-off pack in sixth.

Forest Green starting eleven: Ward, Mills, Digby, Rawson, Shephard, Gunning, Winchester, Brown, Williams, Mondal, Doidge

Subs: Montgomery, McGinley, Godwin-Malife, Reid, Grubb, James, McCoulsky

MK Dons: Nicholls, Lewington, Walsh, Hesketh, Agard, McGrandles, Wheeler, Houghton, Brittain, Martin, Harley

Subs: Moore, Cisse, Watson, Aneke, Simpson, D’Arth, Walker

Attendance: 3,220

Away fans: 601

Star Man: Liam Shephard.