National League
TranmereTranmere Rovers1Forest GreenForest Green Rovers3

Tranmere Rovers 1-3 Forest Green Rovers

By Tom GarryBBC Sport at Wembley
Forest Green celebrate
Forest Green lift the National League promotion final trophy, ending a 19-year stay in the division

Forest Green Rovers were promoted to the English Football League for the first time as they beat Tranmere Rovers in the National League promotion final.

After fine strikes from Kaiyne Woolery and Tranmere's Connor Jennings, Christian Doidge and Woolery goals put Forest Green 3-1 up at the break.

Cole Stockton went close for Tranmere three times in the second half.

But Forest Green held on at Wembley to reach League Two via the play-offs at the third attempt.

Their Gloucestershire home town of Nailsworth will be the smallest ever to host an EFL club next term, with a population of 5,794.

Defeat condemned battling Tranmere to a third straight season of non-league football, after their 94-year stay in the EFL ended with relegation in 2015.

A thrilling first half

Pacy winger Woolery's fierce, bouncing low strike put Forest Green ahead on 11 minutes, for the first of three well-struck goals in a compelling first half.

Jennings rifled in to level after a neat passing move from Micky Mellon's side, who were backed by a far superior number of travelling fans.

But shortly before half-time, Doidge drilled in for his 27th goal of the season after cutting inside, and Woolery latched onto a defensive error to slot in his second soon after, which stunned Tranmere after what had been an even first 40 minutes.

After the break, Stockton was denied by a brilliant low save from Sam Russell, and he then blazed over an empty goal after the keeper had made a hash of an attempted clearance.

Tranmere continued to press, but Stockton's glancing header dropped wide of the far post and Forest Green - with men behind the ball - stoutly withstood the pressure for rest of the game.

The EFL club with the smallest home town

Forest Green fans
Forest Green fans were outnumbered by their Tranmere counterparts, but still created a terrific atmosphere

Victory saw Forest Green go one better than they did at Wembley last term, having lost 3-1 to Grimsby in the 2016 promotion final.

For that game, Mark Cooper had only just arrived at the Gloucestershire side, after former boss Ady Pennock was sacked on the eve of last year's final, but the former Swindon and Notts County boss has achieved promotion in his first full season in charge.

In doing so, he achieved the main, long-held ambition of ambitious, eco-conscious owner Dale Vince, who had strenuously believed it was "inevitable" his side would eventually go up.

A 'vegan' club, with Scottish seaweed helping to fertilise their New Lawn pitch and no meat served on match days, they will be a unique addition to the EFL.

Backed by the owner of 'green' electricity company Ecotricity, Forest Green have hopes to one day compete as high as the Championship.

Having scored more goals than anyone else in the National League this season, they have avoided a 20th consecutive season in the fifth tier, after previously winning promotion to this level in 1998.

Tranmere, who were playing in League One as recently as 2014 and finished nine points above third-placed Forest Green in the regular season, will perhaps look back to their two league losses against champions Lincoln, which ultimately tipped the balance at the top as they finished just four points behind the Imps.

Kaiyne Woolery
Kaiyne Woolery's second goal had Forest Green in charge by half-time

Tranmere boss Micky Mellon:

"Some of the goals we gave away, we're obviously very disappointed about. if you come to a place like this, you've got to do better in those moments.

"The third goal was the killer goal and it was another mistake. But on the day, I totally believe the better team won.

"Every credit to Forest Green. The things you have to do well at places like this, they did them.

"On the day, we made too many errors. I'll have a look at myself as well and look at the preparation."

Forest Green boss Mark Cooper:

"We were brilliant today. The young players were very mature and we looked a really good side today.

"Two goals up is always a funny score, because one goal changes everything. But we encouraged Tranmere to hit a lot of balls into the box, because our centre-halves are good at heading the ball out of the box, and they did it really comfortably.

"I want to enjoy tonight and savour that moment. The clock seemed to take ages to tick by. The players were magnificent."



  • 1Davies
  • 22BuxtonBooked at 63mins
  • 5McNulty
  • 24Hughes
  • 3Ridehalgh
  • 6Ihiekwe
  • 20Maynard
  • 19ManganSubstituted forDunnat 53'minutes
  • 11JenningsSubstituted forCookat 61'minutes
  • 10Norwood
  • 23Stockton


  • 9Cook
  • 13Turner
  • 16Dunn
  • 28Gumbs
  • 39Collins

Forest Green

  • 23Russell
  • 3Monthe
  • 16Pinnock
  • 20CooperBooked at 67mins
  • 6BennettBooked at 74mins
  • 5Ellis
  • 4TraoréSubstituted forWedgburyat 81'minutes
  • 7Marsh-BrownSubstituted forWishartat 61'minutes
  • 15NobleBooked at 90mins
  • 9DoidgeSubstituted forMullingsat 76'minutes
  • 14Woolery


  • 2Tilt
  • 8Wedgbury
  • 11Bugiel
  • 17Wishart
  • 18Mullings
Anthony Backhouse

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 3.

  3. Booking

    Liam Noble (Forest Green Rovers) is shown the yellow card.

  4. Substitution

    Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Sam Wedgbury replaces Drissa Traoré.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Shamir Mullings replaces Christian Doidge.

  6. Booking

    Dale Bennett (Forest Green Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  7. Booking

    Charlie Cooper (Forest Green Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  8. Booking

    Adam Buxton (Tranmere Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Forest Green Rovers. Daniel Wishart replaces Keanu Marsh-Brown.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Tranmere Rovers. Andy Cook replaces Connor Jennings.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Tranmere Rovers. Jack Dunn replaces Andy Mangan.

  12. Second Half

    Second Half begins Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 3.

  13. Half Time

    First Half ends, Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 3.

  14. Goal!

    Goal! Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 3. Kaiyne Woolery (Forest Green Rovers).

  15. Goal!

    Goal! Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 2. Christian Doidge (Forest Green Rovers).

  16. Goal!

    Goal! Tranmere Rovers 1, Forest Green Rovers 1. Connor Jennings (Tranmere Rovers).

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Tranmere Rovers 0, Forest Green Rovers 1. Kaiyne Woolery (Forest Green Rovers).

  18. Kick Off

    First Half begins.

  19. Post update

    Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

As It Stood

1Lincoln City46309783404399
3Forest Green4625111088563286
4Dag & Red462661479532684
11Boreham Wood461513184948158
12Sutton United461513186163-258
14Maidstone United461610205975-1658
16Solihull Moors461510216275-1355
24North Ferriby United46123313282-5039
View full National League table

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