Forest Green Rovers 3-0 Aldershot Town

Kevin Nicholson's penalty and a brace by Mark Beesley sealed another three points and warmed home hearts on a bitterly cold night at the New Lawn.

Michael Brough's ankle injury meant there was a first Rovers start since October for Jamie Pitman, while new signing from Fleetwood Town Lee Dodgson was named on the substitute's bench.

There was an early scare for the home side, Shots striker John Grant latching onto Mark Molesley's chip forward in the sixth minute before sending a dipping effort over the crossbar from the left channel.

Chris Giles' measured long pass created an opening for Les Afful three minutes later. The Rovers man outpaced full-back Dean Smith but sliced his shot wide.

It proved to be a rare bright spot on an opening half-hour bossed by the Shots, who capitalised on the absence of the tenacious Brough in midfield and seemed to have too much time on the ball.

Molesley produced a surging run and a low 20-yard effort that fizzed wide on 16 minutes, while Grant crashed a shot into the side-netting after a neat slide rule pass by the tricky Louis Soares.

Moments later Molesley missed in similar vein, and there would have been relief in the home dugout when injury forced him to leave the field four minutes before half-time.

A misjudgement by Ryan Robinson almost proved costly shortly before the break, as Rovers' new goalkeeper rushed off his line and was pipped to the ball by Grant. The dangerous frontman skipped into the penalty area, only to be halted by a fine tackle by Giles.

Two minutes into the second half Alex Meechan wasted a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock. Simon Clist, who had an unusually quiet first half, sprang to life with a barnstorming run and defence-splitting pass - only for Meechan to drag horribly wide from eight yards with only keeper Nikki Bull to beat.

The opening goal arrived courtesy of an underhit back-pass by Rhys Day, an error pounced upon by Afful and compounded when Bull clumsily hauled the forward to the ground. Nicholson confidently drilled home from the spot for his sixth goal of the season, making him the club's top scorer for the campaign.

Aldershot looked stunned, and Beesley's effort which flashed past the post two minutes later was a warning of things to come.

It was 2-0 when Afful once again proved too quick for Day and laid the ball off for an unmarked Beesley, who finished with aplomb.

But Rovers saved the best till last, as a wonderful flowing move was rounded off with an inswinging cross by Danny Williams and a confident side-footed volley past Bull by the ever-improving Beesley.

There was still time for a debut for Dodgson, who provided flashes of neat skill on the left flank as a replacement for the workaholic Meechan.

The final whistle was greeted with euphoric cheers around the stadium, and the Rovers players were quick to applaud the vocal supporters in the Rockwool stand for their contribution to a memorable evening.

Forest Green: R. Robinson; J. Hardiker, C. Giles, D. Jones, K. Nicholson; D. Williams, J. Pitman (A. Lawless 75), S. Clist, A. Meechan (L. Dodgson 84); M. Beesley; L. Afful (D. Carey-Bertram 69); Subs not used: P. Wanless, S. Williams.

Aldershot: N. Bull; D. Smith, R. Newman, R. Day, D. Barnard; L. Soares (D. Lee 79), M. Molesley (K. Beckford 41), R. Scott, R. Williams; J. Grant, J. Dixon (M. Pritchard 75); Subs not used: K. Hudson, L. Wells.

Referee: O. Langford (West Midlands)

Attendance: 986

Star man: Chris Giles - Flawless in defence, a quality that Rovers badly needed during a torrid first half.