Forest Green 1 Barnsley 5
Forest Green have been relegated back to League Two after just one season in League One.
Their demotion has now been confirmed after an abject 5-1 defeat at home to promotion contenders Barnsley.
Only victory would have kept Rovers alive, albeit temporarily, but three first-half Barnsley goals from set pieces sealed their fate against Michael Duff’s side.
Rovers and relegation aren’t two words that normally go together with the Nailsworth side tasting their first relegation since 1955 when they used to lock horns with the likes of Dursley Town, a far cry from rubbing shoulders this season with big-hitters Derby County.
Rovers become the first English Football League side to suffer relegation in 2022-23.
They have won only six league matches all season, with just one of those coming since Everton legend Duncan Ferguson was appointed as manager in January.
Barnsley went in front inside the opening 10 minutes when Slobodan Tedic headed Luca Connell’s corner in, before Adam Phillips doubled the Tykes’ advantage from the edge of the box.
Former Forest Green striker James Norwood’s header made it 3-0 before the break.
Phillips scored his second goal after half-time.
Forest Green sub Reece Brown managed a late consolation for the home team.
Devante Cole added a fifth in the final minute when he converted Jordan Williams’ cross.
Rovers had started the brighter of the two sides, playing between the Barnsley press smartly and Kyle McAllister was able to run through on goal after Charlie Savage’s through ball, but the linesman adjudged him to be offside as he rounded Barnsley keeper Harry Isted.
Despite the controlling start, Barnsley took the lead from a set-piece, a regular issue for Rovers this season as Tedić rose highest to head Luca Connell’s in-swinging corner beyond Ross Doohan in the eighth minute.
Savage came close to an immediate equaliser, finding space on the edge of the area and forcing Isted to tip his curled effort around the post.
The Manchester United loanee had another great chance in the 26th minute, played in by Udoka Godwin-Malife after a strong drive forward, but he was slow to get the ball out of his feet and the shot was blocked behind.
Barnsley doubled their advantage on the half-hour from another set-piece, a deep free-kick from the left-hand side was headed clear but only as far as Phillips on the edge of the area, his strike deflecting beyond an unsighted Doohan.
Eight minutes before half-time, Barnsley were out of sight as Norwood snuck in unmarked at the near post to steer a header into the far corner, Rovers conceding a third set-piece goal of the match. Norwood scored 50 goals for FGR in a four-year stint but taunted the home fans as he celebrated right in front of the South Stand.
After the Barnsley were awarded a penalty in the 50th minute, Dylan McGeough wiping out Bobby Thomas despite little danger being posed.
Phillips’s spot-kick was poor and Doohan saved with a trailing leg, but the ball spilt straight back to the Barnsley midfielder who rolled home his second of the game.
On 72 minutes, substitute Brown pulled a consolation goal back, a smart effort from 20 years out curling into the far corner beyond Isted.
With just one minute remaining in normal time, Barnsley got their fifth of the game, Jordan Williams’ teasing delivery allowing Cole to squeeze the ball home.
Defeat for Rovers means an unassailable 14 points gap between them and 20th placed Oxford United, who were also beaten at home to Bolton Wanderers. This was the Nailsworth side’s first season in the third tier, but they will be back playing League Two football in the 2023-24 season.
31 R Doohan
22 U Godwin-Malife (replaced on 83 minutes by Bernard)
5 O Casey
23 B Cooper
12 J Robson
17 K McAllister (replaced on 22 minutes by Peart-Harris)
4 D McGeouch (c) (replaced on 57 minutes by Brown)
27 H Bunker
11 J Garrick
48 C Savage (replaced on 57 minutes by Bakayoko)
30 T Omotoye (replaced on 83 minutes by O’Brien)
13 A Burnett
15 J Moore-Taylor