Sky Bet League Two



FORMER Forest Green goalkeeper Jonny Maxted returned to haunt his former club as his wonder save denied Rovers a point as Exeter City knocked their west country rivals off the League Two tree.

Maxted, on his league debut for the Grecians, scrambled across his goal to block Aaron Collins’ point-blank header with 11 minutes left on the clock. Earlier Exeter took the lead through an 11th-minute Ryan Bowman strike.

The Grecians were without former Forest Green loanne keeper Lewis Ward, who played with a broken arm in his side's 1-1 draw at Crewe last Saturday. Ex-Forest Green keeper Maxted taking his place. The Grecians drafted in South African keeper Dino Visser who came in as short-term cover Rovers boss Mark Cooper, the former Grecians midfielder, whose Dad, Terry, led the Grecians to the Fourth Division championship thirty years ago. Cooper was forced into two changes from the team that beat Crawley Town 2-1. Liam Shephard (knee) and Matt Mills (hamstring) missed out with Farrend Rawson and Udoka Godwin-Malife. Academy starlet Vaughn Covil,16, was afforded a first league start on the bench.

Exeter were at it from the get-go – as Forest Green struggled to find an early rhythm. Rovers were well and truly pinned back and were almost caught cold with Ryan Bowman a whisker from nodding in for the Grecians in a high-octane start for Matty Taylor’s side.

Bowman found his range moments later as City nosed ahead on 11 minutes. Jake Sparkes arrowed over a teasing cross for Bowman to volley beyond the sprawling finger tips of Lewis Thomas.

Shell-shocked Rovers were on the ropes. Nicky Law darting in and arrowing a ball across the box with nobody able to punish Rovers slip-shod defending.

Looking for a riposte and trying to buck the trend, Celtic loanne Jack Aitchison fizzed a strike into Maxted.

Only a last-gasp block from Aaron Martin denied Aitchison the chance to net parity after the diminutive attacker profited from a crisp Godwin-Malife ball, Rovers’ main attacking outlet, conjured from a raking Liam Kitching diagonal.

A tangle in central midfield saw 27th minute yellow cards for Exeter’s Lee Martin and Forest Green’s Ebou Adams.

With 10 minutes of the first-half left, Rovers’ Dom Bernard survived a horror moment when treading on the ball for the quick-thinking Law to steel in and try an audacious chip from 35 yards that beat Thomas and dropped just over the inviting net.

Play was halted when Thomas landed awkwardly under a high ball on the cusp of half-time. The Rovers’ keeper continued but didn’t appear after the break and was replaced by Bristol City loanne Joe Wollacott.

Rovers sniffed parity when Aitchison linked with Matty Stevens but his ball into the box just missed out the marauding Joseph Mills.

Only a flying block from Maxted denied Adams an equaliser following a lung busting Kitching run and a clever pass from Collins conjured the opportunity just before the hour mark.

With 20 minutes to go Cooper showed his final hand – ushering on striker Junior Mondal for Godwin-Malife. Taylor responded in kind – hooking Archie Collins for Nigel Atangana.

Maxted somehow denied Collins with 11 minutes to go as he leaped across his box to repel his header from an inch-perfect Mills cross.

Rovers drop to fourth in the League Two table, with City lying second.

Exeter City: Maxted, Sweeney, A, Martin, L Martin (Fisher 79), Law, Williams, Bowman, Parkes, Sparkes, Taylor, Collins (Atangana 72)

Subs not used:Visser, Jay, Richardson, Moxey, Seymour

Bookings: Lee Martin 27, Aaron Martin 82, Williams 90

Forest Green Rovers: Thomas ( Wollacott 45), Bernard, Godwin-Malife (Mondal 70), Kitching, Rawson, J Mills, Winchester, Adams, Aitchison (Morton 65), Stevens, Collins

Subs not used: Allen, Covil, Taylor

Bookings: Adams 27, Godwin-Malife 60

Star Men: Udoka Godwin-Malife (Forest Green) Aaron Martin (Exeter)

Attendance: 5,312

FGR fans: 446

Referee: Paul Marsden

Next up: Forest Green welcome Mansfield Town on Saturday, (3pm).