10-man Bristol Rovers fall to narrow 0-1 defeat to West Country rivals Forest Green Rovers.
Danny Cole’s first half goal was enough to see Forest Green take all three points back to Stroud and see them leapfrog Rovers into the playoff places.
Darrell Clarke made two changes to the team that drew 2-2 with Aldershot at the ES Stadium with Daniel Leadbitter coming in to replace the suspended Tom Lockyer and Jake Gosling replacing Dave Martin.
Forest Green started the game at a frantic pace asserting their physical presence early on which caused the boys in blue and white several problems.
Steve Mildenhall made a fantastic save to keep the game goalless inside 10 minutes. James Norwood found himself in acres of space in the Rovers penalty area but a strong right hand from Mildenhall denied the England C man.
Moments later Forest Green forward Jon Parkin lashed a long-range free kick low towards the Rovers goal, which Mildenhall could only palm out for a corner.
From the resulting corner former Rovers man Danny Coles bundled the ball home from close range.
Chances were few and far between for Rovers, however full back Daniel Leadbitter’s powerful running through the Forest Green defence was a particular highlight.
Leadbitter surged past two men and squared the ball along the six-yard box but Adam Cunnington couldn’t turn the ball home.
Rovers started the second half with intent and had a shot on goal within the opening seconds as Jake Gosling fired straight at Sam Russell.
Moments later Matty Taylor was put clean through onto goal but lashed his shot high and wide of the goal with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Things went from bad to worse for Rovers just before the hour mark as Daniel Leadbitter was given a straight red card for his challenge on Kurtis Guthrie.
The former Hereford man miss-controlled the ball and lunged in on Guthrie and gave substitute referee Mark Whaley no choice but to produce the red card.
Even with their numerical disadvantage pushed for the equalising goal as Dave Martin headed wide from Jake Gosling’s inch perfect cross from just four yards out.
Martin seemed determined to make up for the miss and hurried down Dale Bennett to earn Rovers a corner.
Lee Mansell whipped the ball in from the Rovers left hand side and an arriving Neal Trotman headed the ball narrowly over.
Rovers continued to press and had changes through substitutes Martin and Harrison but couldn’t find that all-important equaliser.
Up next for Rovers is the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying round match at the Avenue Stadium against Dorchester Town on Saturday 25th October.
Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Trotman, Parkes, Brown, Monkhouse (Martin – 21), Clarke (White – 84), Mansell (C), Gosling, Cunnington, Taylor (Harrison – 64).
Unused Substitutes: Puddy, McChrystal.
Forest Green: Russell, Bennett, Norwood (Frear – 64), Wedgebury, Kelly, Oshodi, Guthrie, Sinclair, Parkin, Rodgers (Jolley – 75), Coles.
Unused Substitutes: Pipe, Hughes, Kamdjo.