Luke McGee’s goalkeeping masterclass helped League Two leaders Forest Green earn a 0-0 draw against Exeter in a tense West Country derby.
It was Exeter who started the brighter, with Josh Key slamming wide from Matt Jay’s deflected strike.
Forest Green were a whisker from getting their noses in front, captain Jamille Matt a boot away from touching in a Nicky Cadden cross in the 17th minute.
The Grecians responded as the impressive Jay brought a brave block out of McGee.
The move of a scratchy opening 45 minutes saw Cameron Dawson glove a near-post strike from Barnsley loanee Jack Aitchison after an audacious turn and spin from Kane Wilson.
The stalemate was almost broken by the visitors when Archie Collins’ free-kick was superbly touched over by McGee with 54 minutes gone.
Exeter continued to hold sway and Timothee Dieng planted a free header wide when scoring looked easier.
McGee’s reaction save with his feet prevented Dieng a certain goal with 11 minutes to go, leaving Rovers forced to settle for a point that moved them eight points clear at the top of the table.
Forest Green boss Rob Edwards was satisfied with the draw, which saw his side’s unbeaten run in the league extended to 11 games.
He said: “We will definitely take a point, we were far from our best against a good team and when you are not at your best you have to find a way not to lose a game – they earned it and landed on the second balls and stopped us being at our usual best.”
Pictures: Pro Sports Images
Edwards heralded the impact of keeper McGee, adding: “Luke (McGee) did well with a number of good saves and kept us in it.”
Meanwhile, Exeter City boss Matt Taylor lauded his side who ended a four-game losing streak to earn a dogged point at league leaders Forest Green.
“It was a top performance that deserved more than a point and we can take heart from that,” beamed Edwards.
“There were lots of pleasing performances, but without a win to show for them.
“Their wing-backs (Nicky Cadden and Kane Wilson) have been their best players all season and we kept them quiet.
“And we kept Jamille Matt away from the box and he’s a fantastic player. Collectively I thought we were excellent.
“Sometimes you can take more heart from not winning a game than winning one. They are the best team in the league by a long shot and so now we’ve shown what we can do against the best.
“We now want to pick up points after a disappointing December and we can take confidence from that performance.
“We are starting to shape to where we were earlier in the season and we have bodies coming back as well as the transfer window.”
Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Cargill, Stevenson, Aitchinson (Stevens 58’), Cadden, Matt ©, Moore-Taylor, Diallo (Sweeney 80’), March
Subs: Thomas, Sweeney, Stevens, Edwards, Young, Hendry Goodwin-Maliffe
Exeter City: Dawson, Key, Grounds (Stubbs 78’), Diabate, Kite, Caprice, Collins, Dieng (Taylor 90’), J. Brown, Jay, Amond (Seymour 64’)
Subs: S. Brown, Stubbs, Seymour, Taylor, Daniel, Dyer, Edwards
Referee: Benjamin Speedy
Attendance: 2631 (833 away)