Forest Green tumbled to their fourth straight home defeat as Walsall halted a three-game losing streak.

Josh Gordon’s 50th minute penalty and a sumptuous strike from Walsall substitute Wes McDonald on 72 minutes. Forest Green made the game interesting when Josh March touched in an Aaron Colins’ flick with four minutes to go, but Walsall hung on.

Making two changes from the team held to a 2-2 draw at Grimsby Town last time out, manager Mark Cooper brought in deadline day signing from Stevenage, Chris Stokes, making his debut in his second spell at the club and taking the place of Nathan McGinley at left-back. Oxford United loanee Rob Hall replaced Dom Bernard with midfielder Kevin Dawson switching to right-back and Hall playing off one-time Walsall target Josh March.

Like a pair of comfy slippers, Stokes was quickly into his stride and with Carl Winchester pulling the strings in midfield it was Rovers who fashioned the first opportunity of note – Hall forcing a 14th-minutes save from Liam Roberts as he let fly from the edge of the box.

Chances were at a premium. However, Rory Holden bucked the trend for Walsall – his teasing free-kick bouncing into the box and over as Shay Facey waited to pounce.

Ebou Adams demanded a scrambled stop from Roberts as the game warmed up in the dying embers of the first-half.

With seven minutes of the first-half to go, dogged Walsall defending maintained the deadlock. Odin Bailey’s corner was completely missed by Roberts with Josh March appearing to get a glancing header onto the bar and in the ensuing melee Cameron Pring hacked the ball off the line.

It was end-to-end – Caolan Lavery driving through and seeing his strike blocked by Conrad Logan.

Rovers pressed the self-destruct button on 50 minutes. Kevin Dawson’s aerial challenge floored Liam Kinsella in the box and Josh Gordon rattled the penalty home a minute later despite Logan getting a glove to the ball.

Cooper shuffled his pack – hooking Hall for Aaron Collins. Despite having the wind taken out of them, Rovers responded but found Walsall in unforgiving mood. Pring cleared off the line for a second time for the Saddlers when Stokes ghosted around the back from a Bailey corner.

George Williams was ushered on for the first time since breaking his leg in the season -opener in a double substitution and his Forest Green sub Aaron Collins spurned a golden opportunity to level things up on 71 minutes, but he scuffed his close-range opportunity from a Liam Kitching cross.

A moment of individual brilliance from Walsall sub Wes McDonald saw the Saddlers go 2-0 up. Running at the Rovers’ defence, McDonald burst into the box to lift the ball deftly over the advancing Logan.

Rovers looked for a way back into the game – Collins shot on the turn produced a flying save from Roberts from an Elliott Frear assist.

Forest Green made the game interesting when Josh March touched in an Aaron Colins’ flick with four minutes to go, but Walsall hung on despite late chances for Williams and Aitchison.

Rovers drop to 10th but remain three points off the play-offs.

FOREST GREEN: Logan, Dawson (Frear 70 ), Stokes, Kitching, Rawson, Winchester, Adams (Williams 70), Hall (Collins 57), March, Bailey, Aitchison

Subs not used: Thomas, Bernard, McGinley

WALSALL: Roberts, Pring, Sadler, Scarr, Sinclair, Kinsella, Lavery, Gordon (Adebayo 73), Holden (McDonald 54), Facey, Sheron Bookings: Gordon 39, Sheron 77

Subs not used: Rose, Norman, Guthrie, Nolan, Jules


Away fans: 995

Referee: Anthony Coggins

Star Man: Chris Stokes