Michael O’Connor marked his debut for Salford City with a second-half winner to send Forest Green tumbling out of the play-offs as Graham Alexander’s side finished the game with nine men.

Earlier, Salford got off to a blistering start – Ibou Touray watching his innocuous free-kick float beyond Smith with just three minutes on the clock.

Josh March marked his home league debut with a predatory finish just eight minutes later. Liam Kitching’s buccaneering run and cute pass to Dom Bernard was flicked on by Junior Mondal for the predatory March to stab home.

Rovers survived a heart-in-the-mouth moment on the half-hour – the previously impeccable Farrend Rawson selling Smith short for Ashley Hunter to nip in and spank his shot onto the foot of the post.

It was end-to-end, March skewing wide from outside the Salford box and then drawing a save from Kyle Letheren after chasing a lost cause.

Coach Mark Cooper hooked Jack Aitchison at the break for Elliott Frear, Salford followed suit, introducing Bruno Andrade following his switch from Lincoln City this week. Frear was quickly into his stride.

Salford regained the lead on 54 minutes – O’Connor pulling the trigger.

Salford’s Richie Towell was handed a second yellow on 74 minutes after handling a Dom Bernard cross and boss Graham Alexander was carded with nine minutes to go.

Forest Green substitute Aaron Collins hit the post on 83 minutes and fellow sub Shawn McCoulsky was a boot from touching in a Joseph Mills.

Deep into five minutes of injury time Ashley Hunter was booked again as Salford finished with nine men.

Ebou Adams was denied at the death by Letheren as Salford held out.

Prior to kick-off a minute’s applause was held to mark the untimely passing of Forest Green U18s manager Chris Barker, who was previously an esteemed former professional footballer, serving the likes of Cardiff City, QPR and Stoke City.

FOREST GREEN: Smith, Bernard, J Mills, Kitching, Rawson, Winchester, Adams, Brown (Collins 60), Aitchison (Frear 45), Mondal, March (McCoulsky 76)

Subs not used: Thomas, Dawson, M Mills, McGinley

Bookings: Rawson 92

SALFORD CITY: Letheren, Wiseman, Touray, Rooney (Hughes79), Burgess, Towell, Pond, Asante ( Baldwin 66), O’Connor, Jervis(Andrade 45), Hunter

Bookings: O’Connor 38, Towell 62, Pond 80

Red card: Towell 74, Hunter 93

Attendance: 2,707

Away fans: 132

Referee: Nicholas Kingseley

Star Man: Liam Kitching

Next up: Forest Green travel to Macclesfield on Saturday, 3pm