A brilliant strike from Forest Green Rovers midfielder Odin Bailey was the difference on Tuesday night, as the Green Devils leap frogged Carlisle United into second place.
Forest Green completed back-to-back away victories for only the second time this season, despite the fact Mark Cooper’s side lacked danger man Jamille Matt and Ebou Adams.
Meanwhile, the home side Carlisle were unable to avoid a similar result to the reverse fixture which saw Rovers run out 1-0 victors at the New Lawn.
Carlisle United: Farman; Armer, Hayden, Bennett, Anderton, Riley, Guy, Mellish, Kayode, Alessandra, Patrick.
Forest Green Rovers: Thomas; Godwin-Malife, Stokes, Moore-Taylor, Cargill, Sweeney, Bailey, Whitehouse, Collins, Davison, Cadden.
Story of the match
It was the home side who started the contest the better, with Jack Armer delivering a heavy ball into the box and Josh Kayode coming close to creating an opportunity for himself, whilst Forest Green responded with an early disallowed goal as Bailey Cargill fired in from an offside position.
Omari Patrick had a chance to open the scoring, as he intercepted some sloppy Forest Green control at the back but his final effort was weak.
One noticeable tactic from the Cumbrians was Kayode’s dangerous long throw, and it nearly led to the breakthrough as Joe Riley had a shot blocked and Armer’s follow up was cleared.
But the breakthrough did eventually muster, but not for the home side. Forest Green’s Nicky Cadden latched onto Josh Davison’s pass, but Callum Guy tripped the Scotsman in the box and the referee begrudgingly awarded the penalty. Up stepped Aaron Collins, who was clinical from 12 yards and fired past Paul Farman, despite the goalkeeper guessing the right way.
Chris Beech was evidently unhappy with his sides peg back, and made a triple change, as Offrande Zanzala, Gime Toure and Brennan Dickenson all replaced Jon Mellish, Patrick and Lewis Alessandra.
Dickenson looked to make an immediate impact, as he disposed of the ball in the back of the net but it was cancelled out due to a foul on Udoka Godwin-Malife in the build-up.
But it was a Carlisle substitute who snatched the equaliser for the Cumbrians, as Riley burst forward and took on a few Rovers defenders with some clever footwork, before cutting the ball back to Toure who calmly tucked the ball away at the back post.
However, the equalising goal was immediately bested by a special moment of class from Birmingham City loanee Odin Bailey. Dan Sweeney did well to win a free-kick on the edge of the box, and up stepped Bailey to curl the ball around the wall and properly the Green Devils back into the lead.
Forest Green looked to take advantage of their momentum and double the lead at Brunton Park, but first had to deal with an attack from Carlisle. Riley looked to find the back of the net, but his effort struck the post before Rovers broke, but Davison was unable to convert past Farman.
Farman was once again called into action, as he prevented Davison from close range.
As Lewis Thomas excelled in goal and proved the heroics to confirm the three points for Forest Green, the referee brought the contest to a close with the three points heading back to Gloucestershire.
In what will prove to be the victories of the season for Forest Green, Cooper will be over the moon taking six points from a possible six against a Carlisle team who possess some of the best form in the division.
Keeping Bailey at the club for another loan spell was a huge success for Rovers this season, as the young attacking midfielder could ply his trade at League One level already. His goal proves his talent and tonight he showed why he is one of the league’s most prized gems.
Carlisle seemingly lacked the final touch in the pivotal positions, with Kayode, Dickenson and Riley perhaps missing the chance to snatch something from the game. Riley, alongside Farman in goal, had a fantastic game for the home side.
The away side had a number of stand-out performers, with Whitehouse, Bailey and even Thomas all having impressive games. However, Cadden stood out as a constant threat and headache for Cooper’s side, and played a huge part in the opening goal of the encounter.