Boss Mark Cooper lauded Forest Green’s “best performance of the season” as his side underpinned their automatic promotion credentials against a lacklustre Cambridge United who dropped out of the play-offs.
Second-half strikes from Aaron Collins and a Jamille Matt penalty put Rovers in the driving seat despite a defiant goalkeeping masterclass from Cambridge keeper Callum Burton.
Despite their victory, Rovers dropped to fourth in the table owing to Carlisle United’s 4-0 win against Stevenage.
Cooper beamed: “That’s probably our best performance this season from start-to-finish and that was a really big win for us. I’m pleased with the performance and I thought we were outstanding. We had to be patient and wait for the opportunity as teams bank in.”
Cooper was delighted that Matt put his hand up for the penalty.
“I was pleased that when the penalty was given, he marched over to say he was having it and once the big man said he was having it, nobody was going to argue with him.
Cooper praised scorer Collins who has struggled with his end product this season, scoring only his third goal of the season.
“The analyst tells me his expected goals and productivity are through the roof, sky high in terms of league comparisons, but at some point you have to convert , but hopefully that will calm him down as it was starting to get to him a bit.”
Collins broke the stalemate on 58 minutes when he pounced on Odin Bailey’s pass to evade Burton. Matt made it 2-0 from the penalty spot six minutes later after Cambridge’s Luke Hannant had fouled Ebou Adams.
Meanwhile, U’s are now winless in their last five league games, slipping to ninth in the table, leaving boss Mark Bonner desperate to reverse their poor run of results.
He said: “We need a victory as soon as possible in the league as we don’t want to drop away after an excellent start.
“We knew coming here would be tough. I think they’re a top team and they have a bit of everything. Only very good teams will finish above them.
“You know you’re going to have less of the ball against them so when you do have it you’ve got to make better use of it than we did.
“To go in at 0-0 was good and we had some good counter-attacks but should’ve done better.
“The goals were disappointing and there was a lack of composure at times. Once we went behind, it’s a difficult game then.
“I think the telly will show it wasn’t a penalty. We didn’t lose because of the officials, but some of the decisions were ridiculous.”
Earlier and with home supporters back in the ground, a high-octane opening saw Rovers’ Collins spank wide from the edge of the box.
Cambridge responded – Paul Mullin clipped the top of the bar on 14 minutes after Wes Hoolahan’s exquisite ball played him in.
Nine minutes before the break a Burton parry prevented Bailey breaking the deadlock and Burton’s point-blank save from Matt kept the Rovers’ striker out three minutes after the restart.
Rovers’ incessant pressure finally proved fruitful – Collins latching onto a Bailey slide-rule pass to evade Burton to score on 58 minutes.
Rovers made it 2-0 six minutes later when Adams was upended by Hannant for Matt to rifle home from the spot.