FOREST GREEN boss Mark Cooper felt his side started and finished the game on the coach as west country rivals Exeter City knocked his out of sorts side off their League Two perch.

And former Forest Green goalkeeper Jonny Maxted returned to haunt his former club as his wonder save denied Rovers a point.

Maxted, on his league debut for the Grecians, scrambled across his goal to block Aaron Collins’ point-blank header with 11 minutes left on the clock. Earlier Exeter took the lead through an 11th-minute Ryan Bowman strike.

Cooper bemoaned: “You can’t start the game like we did and expect to win. First 15 minutes we were still on the coach and it’s difficult to try and wrestle the initiative back, but we resorted to whacking the ball forward and when we do that, we’re not effective. Lots of lessons to be learned, but it’s just one game.”

And Cooper felt striker Aaron Collins should have salvaged a point for his side.

“You've got to give Jonny Maxted credit because he’s in the right place, but Aaron Collins shouldn’t be even giving him a chance, he should be heading into the floor from four-yards instead of straight at him and it was a great move, probably our only bit of quality and we should be stood here with a point.”

Meanwhile, Exeter City boss Matty Taylor remained grounded after his side gained the derby day bragging rights, he said: “Still early days, but you’ve got to take points off your rivals.

“It was important to see it through and I felt we were a bit unlucky to go in 1-0 up, but we were relentless in that first-half and so were the fans.

“Forest Green are a good team and were top of the league for a reason and it was important to beat one of our rivals.

“A clean sheet was important not just for Jonny Maxted, but also the group.”