SWINDON Town beat League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers 2-0 away at the New Lawn on Saturday thanks to goals from Harry McKirdy and Tyreece Simpson.

Town, without five key players due to international duty, were helped by several brilliant performances in front of the Sky Sports cameras and were deserved winners – a feat that extends the club’s unbeaten run away from home.

Goalless at the break, Town kicked into gear in the second half before Lewis Ward – facing his old club – kept out an injury-time penalty from substitute Josh March to see Swindon up to third.

Town made three changes to the side that beat Bristol Rovers 3-1 a week ago. Ward came in for his first league start against his old club in place of Jojo Wollacott, Rob Hunt replaced Kaine Kesler-Hayden, and McKirdy started up front instead of Alex Gilbert.

For Forest Green, the Green Devils were without Ebou Adams who was away on international duty. Player of the month nominee, Nicky Cadden started in midfield while League Two top scorer Jamille Matt was up front.

The game started at a high tempo as both teams attempted to settle into a rhythm, and it was Town who had the game’s first shot on target in the fourth minute. Following some brilliant hold-up play from McKirdy, the forward slipped it down the right channel for Jack Payne who saw his cross blocked out to Hunt. The Town defender weakly curled a left-footed shot straight at McGee from a tight angle though.

Down the other end, Town were almost immediately cut open as Jack Aitchison was put through on goal, but Ward came out quickly to smother the danger from Aitchison and Matt before winning a foul.

After Swindon saw claims for a penalty waved away in the 10th minute, Ben Garner’s men had a goal disallowed in the 14th minute. McKirdy broke forward and slammed a shot at Luke McGee from the edge of the box, and the goalkeeper spilled it at the feet of Simpson.

The striker bullied his marker off the ball to bundle in, but the referee was quick to rule the goal out, much to the amazement of most inside the Fully Charged New Lawn.

Both sides exchanged unsuccessful corners before the next good chance in the 30th minute came when McGee got down low to deny McKirdy. Hunt crossed in from the right and the ball fell to McKirdy on the edge of the box. His right-footed shot was smartly turned around the post by the home stopper, however.

Shortly before the break, Cadden forced former Forest Green stopper Ward into a smart save from a free-kick. The left-footed effort was curling towards the top corner, but Ward sprung up to turn it behind.

A quiet start to the second half was interrupted after Aitchison missed a guilt-edge chance to open the scoring. Dion Conroy and Akin Odimayo accidentally clashed and let Aitchison through on goal down the left. He opened his body up to curl it around the advancing Ward, but got it horribly wrong and placed his shot into the stand.

That missed chance would prove costly less than two minutes later as Swindon opened the scoring instead. Ben Gladwin received the ball down the right in space and whipped a delightful low cross in towards McKirdy. He held off his man and guided the ball right footed past McGee and into the bottom left corner.

The Town goalscorer had a half-chance to double his tally moments later too, but his near-post header from Payne’s cross had too little on it and skipped by the far post.

Garner’s men almost found a second with 20 minutes to play when Louis Reed picked out Hunt on the right and he crossed first time towards the centre. It was McKirdy on the end of the chance once again, but he could only poke over from close range.

Inside the final 15 minutes, ex-Forest Green man Ward was enjoying a fine day and made another wonderful save to deny substitute Jake Young.

Forest Green broke down the right, and Young set his sights and shot goalwards, taking a huge deflection off Crichlow. But Ward jumped up and flicked the ball out from under his own crossbar to deny him.

Minutes later, the Town stopper performed heroics again, this time from March. Cadden's cross from the left was headed down by March, but just when it looked like the net was going to bulge, Ward got down and tipped it away.

The goalkeeper’s actions consequently paved the way for the visitors to double their lead with five minutes to go. McKirdy was found down the right via a chipped through ball, and he raced in on goal before lifting the ball over McGee before Simpson tapped in on the line.

As Town looked to close the game out late on, the sensational Ward made a rare error by bringing down March, leading to an injury-time penalty. But as he had done all afternoon, Ward was equal to the spot-kick and maintained his richly-deserved clean sheet.

FGR starting XI: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Sweeney, Stevenson, Stevens, Aitchison, Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor, Hendry.

SUBS: Thomas, Cargill, Evans, Edwards, Young, Diallo, March.

STFC starting XI: Ward, Hunt, Odimayo, Conroy, Crichlow, Iandolo, Reed, Payne, Gladwin, McKirdy, Simpson.

SUBS: Baudry, Lyden, Mitchell-Lawson, East, Aguiar, Parsons, Dabre.