Jamille Matt’s 57th strike was enough to secure all three points for Forest Green Rovers and leave Town empty handed.
There was no shortage of energy or endeavour from the home side, who were buoyed by the return of fans to the Envirovent Stadium for the first time in 274 days, but for all their effort they couldn’t find a way through the visitors defence.
Following the 5-2 home defeat to Scunthorpe in midweek, manager Simon Weaver opted to shake things up with his starting line-up. In came Brendan Kiernan, Aaron Martin and the fit-again Ryan Fallowfield. Lloyd Kerry, Calvin Miller and Mark Beck dropped down to the bench.
For the visitors Mark Cooper named an unchanged eleven from their 1-1 draw at home to Newport, with Jake Young again sidelined through injury.
The returning crowd of 410 were in good voice early spurring Town on, but it was Rovers who threatened first when Jayden Richardson sliced his effort well wide.
A quick break from Town on 10 mins resulted in their first foray into the opposition box, with George Thomson’s shot deflected wide for a corner.
With Kiernan part of an attacking trio alongside Martin and Jack Muldoon, he had license to drive at the visitors defence and after receiving Muldoon’s sweeping cross-field ball he cut inside but failed to control his left-footed shot.
James Belshaw had to be at his alert best after 20 minutes when Nicky Cadden’s attempted cross could have caught the Town keeper out had his reactions not been so quick.
Rovers came into the game with highest possession rating in the division so it was little surprise that they were enjoying spells of control on the ball. The Town defence were holding firm, offering no time or space for manoeuvre and with little room Aaron Collins headed well wide from Cadden’s cross.
On the cusp of half-time the game had its first shot on target when Muldoon pounced on a Kiernan lay-off; his shot though lacked the power to test Luke McGee in the opposition goal.
Former Town loanee Liam Kitching opened up the second half with a forging run deep into the home half, with
Connor Hall blocking his shot on goal and then having to be smart moments later to prevent an attempt from Carl Winchester.
The visitors were pressing Town hard and only a low Belshaw save prevented Cadden’s powerful drive opening the scoring.
Cadden was instrumental though after 57 minutes when he outpaced the Town defence to set up Jamill Matt for a comfortable near post finish to give him his seventh league goal of the season and Rovers the lead.
Town responded well to the setback, with the lively Kiernan attempting a speculative overhead kick that was not too far from the target.
Aaron Martin’s effort from the edge of the area was deflected wide to force a succession of corners for Town as the 90 minutes beckoned.
The commanding McGee marshalled his back line well to repel the danger and ensure his side went away with all three points.
Town: Belshaw, Fallowfield, Burrell, Lawlor, Hall, Thomson, Falkingham, Kirby (Beck, 90), Kiernan, Muldoon, Martin.
Subs not used: Cracknell, Lokko, Kerry, Miller, Stead.
Forest Green: McGee, Stokes, Kitching, Winchester (Wagstaff, 90) Adams, Collins (Sweeney, 84), Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor, Godwin-Malife, Richardson.
Subs not used: Wilson, Stevens, Bailey, Whitehouse, Thomas.
Goals: Matt (57)
Booked: Winchester (87)
Referee: Marc Edwards.
Report by Danny Pugsley