Sky Bet League Two

Morecambe 0

Forest Green 2

FOREST GREEN turned on the style in the second half as goals from substitute Jack Aitchison and a stoppage-time Liam Shephard strike saw Mark Cooper’s side catapult themselves  up to third.

In truth, Rovers huffed and puffed in the first-half, but showed true resolve with a stunning display after the break, with the gloss sealed by Shephard’s late second to knock the stuffing out of Jim Bentley’s struggling Morecambe.

Earlier, head coach Cooper made three tweaks from the team held by Mansfield Town. Joe Wollacott replaced Lewis Thomas in goal. Former Morecambe striker Aaron Collins and Celtic loanne Aitchison, both on target in the 2-2 draw against the Stags, last time out, dropped to the bench. Collins was nursing a slight ankle injury and Aitchison was rested. Elliott Frear was handed his first start after arriving as a free agent last week and Bristol City loanne James Morton was afforded an opportunity to make his mark from the  get-go.

An inauspicious start saw Rovers all at sea. Dominic Bernard’s cushioned header caught Wollacott cold for Lewis Alessandra nip in and roll the ball towards the inviting net, but the recovering Liam Kitching dashed back to clear off the line with 15 minutes on the clock.

The Shrimps were turning the screw – Cole Stockton skewing wide from the edge of the box as Rovers wobbled.

Predictably, Rovers were bossing possession and pleasing on the eye, but chances on goal were in poor supply. Frear tried to buck the trend when coming in off the right to watch his howitzer deflected.

Only smart defending from Morecambe’s Steven Old denied the sliding Ebou Adams a 39th-minute opener from a Liam Shephard cross.

On the cusp of the break, Adams got in front of his marker from a Joseph Mills corner, but his towering header cleared Barry Roche in the Shrimps’ goal as the game remained in deadlock.

Rovers were a different animal after the break. They had strong penalty claims waived away on 56 minutes - leaving Cooper and his side incandescent with rage as Stevens looked to have been pushjed in the back from Old on 56 minutes.

Cooper turned to the bench on 64 minutes, hooking Morton and Frear for Collins and Aitchison. The move proved decisive.

Collins and the increasingly influential Shephard watched shots blocked and Bernard’s fizzing cross flashed across the box as Rovers upped the ante.

And they went 1-0 up with a goal of sublime quality with 15 minutes to go. The move started with Kitching finding Mills with a stunning touch to Collins and Aitchison tricked his marker with magical feet to fizz a deflected strike beyond Roche for his second goal in as many games.

However, Morecambe spurned a chance to bag a point, but defender Old inexplicably toed the ball over the bar inside the box with six minutes to go.

Rovers remained resolute as Morecambe hunted parity. Luke Conlan fizzed a free-kick over the wall with three minutes to go after Shephard incurred a booking for chopping down Stockton.

Morecambe’s frustration grew when Alessandra picked up a second yellow for a foul on Shephard.

Deep into stoppage-time a swift counter saw the industrious Stevens find Shephard who finished with unnerving aplomb to end Rovers' Globe Arena nemesis.

FOREST GREEN: Wollacott, Bernard, Rawson, Kitching, J Mills, Morton (Collins 64), Adams, Winchester, Shephard, Stevens, Frear (Aitchison 64)

Subs: Thomas (GK), Mondal, Taylor, Allen, McCoulsky

MORECAMBE: Roche, Conlan, Kenyon (Miller 80), Old, O’Sullivan, Alessandra, Stockton, Ellison, Brewitt (Wildig 69), Lavelle, Tanner

Subs not used: Halstead (GK),Sutton, Wildig, Howard, Mendes-Gomes, Miller

Referee: M Donohue

Star Man: Liam Kitching

Attendance: 1,658

FGR fans: 63

Next up: Forest Green welcome league leaders Crewe Alexandra on Saturday, 3pm.