League Two

Forest Green Rovers 3

Crawley Town 1

FOREST GREEN jumped to the top of the League Two tree with an emphatic victory over Crawley Town.

First-half goals from Joseph Mills and Aaron Collins put Rovers in the driving seat before Mills grabbed a second after the break. Crawley pulled a goal back, but Mark Cooper’s side remained in control to hit top spot for the first time this season.

Predictably, Cooper named an unchanged team from the side that trounced hapless Salford City. However, on the bench Cooper had the luxury of nine players available for seven spots with only Kevin Dawson and George Williams on the treatment table. Dayle Grubb and Udoka Godwin-Malife missed out of the matchday squad.

Rovers suffered an early blow – Matt Mills limping off after nine minutes – Farrend Rawson taking his place at the heart of the back-three.

Celtic loanne Jack Aitchison posted Rovers’ first shot in anger on 11 minutes – stabbing wide from a Liam Shephard cross.

Rovers were hitting the straps - Liam Kitching playing a pivotal part in their attacking intent.

Rovers were given the chance to nose ahead when the lively Matty Stevens and Joseph Mills traded passes for Crawley keeper Glenn Morris to upend the advancing Mills.

However, Mills fluffed his lines from the spot with Morris throwing up a paw, but the Rovers captain kept his composure to dispatch the free ball home to hand his side a 24th-minute lead.

Crawley’s riposte was immediate – Reece Grego-Cox watching his opportunity blocked by a Rovers’ defence proudly boasting a five-game shutout.

Rovers had a great opportunity to go 2-0 up on 33 minutes. Aaron Collins set Aitchison free but Morris showed speed of thwart to get a goal-saving boot to the ball.

Collins, full of incisive intent showed his danger when cutting in from the left and forcing Morris to sprawl to his right with four minutes of the half to go and a minute later Collins spanked over the bar from a Shephard cross.

Deep into stoppage-time Crawley’s Panutche Camara chanced his arm from the edge of the box, but his strike fizzed wide of the mark.

Three goals in eight minutes set the tone for a helter-skelter second-half Rovers made it 2-1 on 51 minutes with a goal that had quality stamped all over it. Stevens and Winchester combined for Collins to bury his strike into the bottom corner for his second goal in as many games, with Cooper performing a touchline gig and Collins a somersault to toast the goal.

Three minutes later Camara flattened Ebou Adams in the box and Joseph Mills stepped up to smash in the penalty for his fifth goal of the season.

Crawley grabbed a lifeline on 59 minutes as Rovers’ goal was breached for the first time in six games. Grego-Cox arrowed a ball into the box for Mason Bloomfield to fizz beyond Lewis Thomas.

The industrious Winchester almost made it four but his curler was gloved away by Morris on 72 minutes and then Aitchison was denied by the Crawley keeper after linking well with Stevens.

The impressive Shepard flashed a strike across the box from a Stevens assist as Rovers smelled more goals.

However, Thomas showed sharp reactions to turn a Gyliano Van Velzen fizzer over from a David Seasy cross in the dying embers of the game.

Forest Green Rovers: Thomas, Bernard, Shephard ( Morton 88), Kitching, M Mills ( Rawson 9), J Mills, Winchester, Adams, Aitchison, Stevens, Collins (Allen 83)

Subs not used: Wollacott, McGinley, Mondal, Taylor

Bookings: Winchester 68

Crawley Town: Morris, Doherty, Dallison, Grego-Cox, Ferguson, Bloomfield (Van Velzen 78), Sesay, Tunnicliffe ,Bulman (Nathaniel-George 65), Camara ( Allarakhia 56), Lubala

Subs not used: Young ,Sendels-White, Galach, Luyambula

Bookings: Sesay 71, Van Velzen 89, Lubala 90

Star Man: Liam Kitching

Attendance: 2,106

Crawley fans: 136

Referee: Peter Wright

Next up: Forest Green welcome Coventry City in the Leasing.com Trophy on Tuesday, October 8, (7pm).