Wycombe Wanderers made the perfect start to 2018 by beating League Two strugglers Forest Green Rovers 2-1 at The New Lawn.

After a rampant first half where Wanderers could have had five, the home side, reduced to 10 men in the opening 45 minutes came back into it in the second half.

Matt Bloomfield, in his 400th EFL appearance, and Craig Mackail-Smith did the damage before substitute Jack Fitzwater pulled a goal back.

Bloomfield opened the scoring on 26 minutes after a cross from the excellent Nick Freeman caused chaos in the Forest Green area.

Mackail-Smith then doubled the advantage on 42 minutes after Joe Jacobson’s corner was expertly controlled by Adebayo Akinfenwa and the former Peterborough lashed his effort into the top corner.

In between those goals, Charlie Cooper received his marching orders for a clear stamp on Luke O’Nien.

Fitzwater pulled a goal back with a terrific curler with 20 minutes to go that gave Scott Brown no chance.

Wanderers made a bright start to proceedings at The New Lawn, pinning Forest Green back in the opening minutes.

Freeman had the first opportunity for the visitors on three minutes when the ball found him in the box. He shot towards goal with his effort grabbed by keeper Bradley Collins.

Rovers came back strongly and Christian Doidge headed towards goal on six minutes but his effort was well cleared by Mackail-Smith.

The home side threatened again two minutes later when Doidge found Daniel Wishart who’s powerful strike was well saved by Brown.

It was a lively opening from both sides in Nailsworth. Adebayo Akinfenwa was next to try his luck on 11 minutes but his header from Mackail-Smith’s deep cross was well held by Collins.

Shots kept raining down and seconds later, Collins tipped Bloomfield’s firm shot wide. From the resulting corner, Bloomfield had another effort parried into the path of Mackail-Smith who turned the ball home but was offside in the process.

Akinfenwa had a magnificent chance to give Gareth Ainsworth’s men the lead on 17 minutes when he met Mackail-Smith’s wonderful cross but volleyed across the face of goal.

It was then picked up by Freeman who laid the ball to Sam Saunders 20 yards out and his fizzing strike was acrobatically turned behind by Collins.

And the deadlock was finally, and deservedly, broken on 26 minutes when Bloomfield smashed home from six yards.

Bloomfield almost doubled Wanderers’ advantage on the half hour mark when he met Akinfenwa’s delightful through ball, drove into the box but drilled his shot just wide.

Wycombe kept producing wave after wave of attack against a desperate Rovers rearguard and on 35 minutes, Luke O’Nien’s cross just evaded Akinfenwa six yards out.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side when Cooper got dismissed before Mackail-Smith fired home.

Wycombe smelt blood and more intricare play involving Akinfenwa, Mackail-Smith and Saunders saw the former Brentford man hit a fierce effort just wide on 44 minutes.

The second half started off in much quieter fashion with Wycombe looking content to keep possession in the early stages.

Wanderers were looking very comfortable as Forest Green continued to huff and puff without any reward.

Mark Cooper’s men had a sniff on 67 minutes as the ball found Doidge but Brown snuffed out any danger.

Rovers then got a lifeline thanks to Fitzwater’s fine strike. The goal seemed to wake up Wycombe and Akinfenwa almost made the points safe in the 80th minute when he met Freeman’s improvised cross but headed inches wide with Collins beaten.

Collins then made a terrific save on 83 minutes as Saunders unleashed a rocket towards goal but the young keeper equal to it.

O’Nien was thendenied at full stretch by Collins with five minutes to go before the Chairboys saw out the game comfortably.

All in all, a very satisfactory afternoon for the Blues who remain handily placed in the play-offs.

WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Brown, Gape (sub: Bean, 52), De Havilland, Scarr, Jacobson, O’Nien, Saunders, Bloomfield (sub: Tyson, 60), Freeman, Akinfenwa, Mackail-Smith (sub: Eze, 75). Subs: Ma-Kalambay, Southwell, Williams.

FOREST GREEN ROVERS: B Collins, Laird (sub: Fitzwater, 63), L Collins, Monthe, Doidge, Brown, Cooper, Wishart, Evans (sub: Marsh-Brown, 44), Osbourne, Stevens (sub: Bugiel, 79). Subs: Pickering, Simpson, Iacovitti, James.

REFEREE: Antony Coggins

ATTENDANCE: 2,727 (Wycombe 716)