EXETER CITY boss Matt Taylor lauded his 10 men who hung on to post a vital victory at promotion rivals Forest Green.

Former Forest Green goalkeeper Jonny Maxted’s masterclass helped second-place City start the new decade with a 1-0 victory, cementing their automatic promotion hopes despite a second-half red for Nigel Atangana.

Maxted kept Rovers at bay, saving Liam Shephard’s second-half penalty as the 10 men of Exeter shut the door after Atangana, who had given the Grecians a first-half lead, was sent off in the opening minutes of the second-half for a lunge on Kevin Dawson.

Rovers were handed a numerical advantage with Atangana off just sixty-seconds into the second period and they were handed a penalty when Jack Aitchison was floored by Aaron Martin, but Maxted spared his blushes to repel Liam Shephard’s 57th minute free-kick. Maxted was inspired as he denied Winchester for a second time and then superbly gloved a point-blank Junior Mondal strike wide of the goal as City hung on.

Taylor beamed: “I couldn’t have asked for any more from my players. They put a shift in, but we rode our luck at times. I just hope it hasn’t taken too much out of them.

“To lose Nigel (Atangana) so early in the second half, we were up against it and Jonny (Maxted) made a great save from the penalty.

“It’s a big three points because they shifted the ball around really well and made us work.

“You need a bit of luck with ten men especially against a good team like Forest Green.

“It was a good goal, but the second half was the real talking point with the sending off and the penalty.”

Taylor played down his post-match altercation with Forest Green goalkeeper coach Dan Connor.

He said: “There was a bit of emotion at the end which happens with an away win and I’ll have to learn to keep my cool.”

Meanwhile, Forest Green head coach Mark Cooper is expecting a busy transfer window as he searches for the missing ingredient to fire his promotion charge.

He said: “Everyone can see where we are struggling, we had 19 shots today, missed a penalty and couldn’t score, but I’m sure we can't play any better than that.

“If we want to get promoted as our play suggests, we need to do something in January.

“I believe we are close on a couple more, which will be good. It will give everyone a lift and the boys we have got here a hand and hopefully improve the forward part of the pitch and I hope to have two in for Saturday.

“Statistically, in the EFL, we are near the top apart from one, which is the final third of the pitch. We’ve got the most clean sheets, we’re in the top three for possession, we’ve got the most away points in the division, it is just around the box that we have to get right.”