Cambridge United were unable to end Forest Green Rovers’ unbeaten start to Sky Bet League Two, as the ten men U’s fell to a 1-3 defeat at the Abbey Stadium.
Jevani Brown had given the U’s a first half lead under the midweek floodlights, but goals from Digby, Grubb and Worthington resulted in a comfortable victory for the visitors.
The U’s lined up with one change as captain Gary Deegan stepped back into the side following his suspension, in place of George Taft.
United produced some exciting spells of possession, with the likes of Brown, Lambe, Maris and Liam O’Neil linking well as the U’s pushed forward in the opening quarter. George Maris tested Forest Green keeper Robert Sanchez with the first chance on goal on 19 minutes, before Jevani Brown did break the deadlock minutes later when guiding an excellent shot past the shot stopper, following great hold up play from Ibehre.
The U’s were unfortunate not to double the advantage in a real purple patch midway through the half, with Ibehre heading over a Maris free kick having got a little too much purchase on the effort. Maris himself then had a goal chalked off which clipped Reggie Lambe in an offside position on the way through to the net.
However, just as the U’s looked to be in control of the encounter, the visitors struck back on 33 minutes with a fine set piece that saw Joseph Mills whip an excellent delivery onto the head of Paul Digby, who got the slightest of touches to knock it beyond David Forde.
United responded well before the break but it remained honours even going into half time.
United actually started the second half the brighter of the two sides, with Liam O’Neil and Jabo Ibehre teasing shots on goal which forced Sanchez into action once more between the sticks for Forest Green.
And again the visiting shot stopper thwarted Jevani Brown with United’s best chance of the game ten minutes into the second half, stretching out a toe to divert the midfielder’s point blank attempt on the end of substitute David Amoo’s cross to the near post.
It proved to be the game changing moment as Forest Green hit the U’s on the counter attack seconds later, which ended with Dayle Grubb getting the better of Brad Halliday and curling a shot into the top corner to earn the visitors the lead.
Jake Carroll produced a magnificent diving block to stop a certain third goal for Forest Green to extend the U’s hope in the encounter a little longer, but was found guilty of a rash challenge with 15 minutes to play that saw him shown a straight red card.
Ade Azeez’s snapshot on 82 minutes was as close as the U’s came to a comeback, with second half replacement Matt Worthington wrapping up the points for Forest Green with a drilled effort into the bottom corner with five minutes left on the clock.
Barry Corr skewed a shot wide on the end of a U’s set piece late into stoppage time, but the game was well beyond reach at the Abbey.
Cambridge United: Forde, Halliday, Taylor, John, Carroll, Deegan, Maris, Lambe, O’Neil (Amoo, 53 mins), Brown (Corr, 78 mins), Ibehre (Azeez, 73 mins)
Bookings: Taylor, Maris RED: Carroll
Forest Green: Sanchez, Shepherd, James (Gunning, 68 mins), Rawson (Rawson, 80 mins), Grubb, Brown (Wincester, 62 mins), Campbell, McGinley, Digby, Mills, Reid
Bookings: Rawson, McGinley
Attendance: 3,059 (61)
Man of the Match: Gary Deegan