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Rob Edwards: Forest Green taking title from Exeter is ‘icing on the cake’

Forest Green manager Rob Edwards highlighted how hard it is to win a league title (Mike Egerton/PA)
Forest Green manager Rob Edwards highlighted how hard it is to win a league title (Mike Egerton/PA)

Forest Green boss Rob Edwards was a proud man as his side pipped rivals Exeter to the title on a thrilling final day on which a hard-earned 2-2 draw at Mansfield proved enough to secure the Sky Bet League Two crown.

But it took a dramatic 80th-minute equaliser from substitute Josh March, only on the pitch for a minute, to seal it as the home side also booked their place in the play-offs while Exeter were losing at home to Port Vale.

“I am just incredibly proud and pleased and proud of our performance, which I thought was excellent again today,” said Edwards.

“To win a league title over 46 games is difficult.

“Only four teams can do it at the start of every season out of 92. So to be one of those four is really special.

“We knew how tough a test coming to Mansfield would be, especially when they needed something from the game as well.

“But under a lot of pressure we delivered a really good performance.

“We fell behind twice and showed a lot of character to come back with a couple of really good goals and in the end it worked out really well for both clubs.

“We went into the day needing help for the first time this season. But credit to Port Vale. And credit to Exeter too. We have had two really tough battles with them when we’ve played them and for it to go to goal difference shows how tight it was. They have been outstanding.

“But because we’ve been there all season long it just feels extra special. I am still in a bit of disbelief.

“Today was the cherry on the icing on the top of the cake.”

Mansfield went ahead in the 17th minute as a deflected Jamie Murphy pass deflected to Matty Longstaff, who beat Luke McGee at the second attempt.

Rovers levelled in the 64th minute when Jamille Matt sent Ebou Adams clear to slot past Nathan Bishop.

The Stags again took the lead in the 78th minute as Jordan Bowery tucked away Stephen McLaughlin’s low cross at the far post.

But March secured the draw two minutes later as he got into the right side of the box and lifted a deft finish over Bishop.

Stags boss Nigel Clough said: “We are still in with a chance and before kick-off we’d have taken that. Our aim at the start of the season was to get in the top seven, though obviously we’d have loved automatic.

“Bristol Rovers were always going to win so it was all about making sure we got that point. It was tough but we got there.

“They needed a point to win the league so it couldn’t have worked out better for both teams.

“It was important we scored as you don’t fancy keeping a clean sheet against Forest Green. They are always going to cut you open at some point.

“That was the club’s best points tally in over 20 years and we’ve broken a few records along the way this season so I think we are going into the play-offs in good heart with some momentum.”

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