Cambridge United were left to rue a series of missed opportunities as Forest Green snuck the three points with a Jack Aitchenson second half goal at the Abbey.
United created a host of goal scoring chances including a Marc Richards penalty saved, a goal line clearance and Luke Hannant striking the cross bar, but were punished by the visitors with Aitchenson striking the decisive moment in the 78th minute.
Harry Darling was the U’s only change to the starting line-up, as the centre back moved into a back three in place of Harrison Dunk.
After a low key opening to the contest, United began to grow into the game through the middle stages of the first half. Liam O’Neil struck a clean effort that whistled wide of the far post after he’d been found with an exquisite through ball by Samir Carruthers.
Sam Smith fired over from the edge of the Forest Green area soon after, before excellent link up play between Davies and Lewis saw the latter fire a cross into O’Neil only for Lewis Thomas to deny the midfielder low to his left.
Smith couldn’t get enough contact on a diving header four yards out and glanced Luke Hannant’s cross off target, whilst Paul Lewis too failed to make the most of an opportunity when he carried the ball into a shooting position but drilled over.
Taylor Allen produced the only real scare for the U’s before the break when the midfielder turned Taft inside and out before driving an effort fractions over Mitov’s goal with the U’s keeper at full stretch.
Hannant was extremely unfortunate not break the deadlock in United’s favour minutes into the second half, when the left wing back cut onto his right foot and looped a shot over Thomas that caught the underside of the cross and bounced the wrong side of the goal line.
Liam O’Neil hammered a fierce shot from 30 yards that swung inches wide of the post in what was his final action of the game before being replaced by George Maris on 55 minutes.
Paul Lewis looked to have given United the advantage when he beat Rovers keeper Thomas in an aerial challenge to flick a header beyond the keeper only for Joseph Mills to clear it off the goal line. Lewis was convinced the ball had crossed the goal line but the officials waved away his protests on the hour mark.
A dramatic couple of minutes continued when United were awarded a penalty from the resulting corner as George Taft had his shirt virtually tugged off. However, despite a firm attempt by Richards from 12 yards, Thomas went the right way and got both gloves to push the ball wide.
United looked to remain positive despite the list of missed chances and Colin Calderwood introduced Andrew Dallas and Jabo Ibehre with 15 minutes to play as they went in search of a winner.
However, they were dealt a major blow when Forest Green substitute Jack Aitchinson darted into the area, shimmied away from any U’s tackler and thundered a shot against the inside of Mitov’s near post to break the deadlock with ten minutes to play.
Ibehre was close to an almost instant leveller but headed wide from six yards out, and Dallas too caught a volley sweetly but couldn’t find the target as the game got away from the U’s. Aitchenson struck the post late on for the visitors with United pushing for a leveller that eluded them.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Davies, Darling, Taft, Taylor, Hannant, O’Neil (Maris, 55 mins), Carruthers, Lewis, Smith (O’Neil, 77 mins), Richards (Ibehre, 77 mins)
Forest Green Rovers: Thomas, Rawson, Winchester, Grubb (Aitchinson, 65 mins), Stevens, Allen (Morton, 45 mins), Dawson, Kitching, Godwin-Malife, Mills , Taylor (Mondal, 72 mins)
Bookings: Mills, Kitching
Attendance: 3,784 (134)
Man of the Match: Samir Carruthers