Forest Green 4 Ebbsfleet United 1
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 4 EBBSFLEET UNITED 1
FREE-scoring Forest Green registered a fourth straight win to seize top spot in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Stung into action by Phil Walsh's spectacular 12th minute opener, Rovers ran riot with first-half goals from Yan Klukowski, Ben Wright, Matty Taylor and Eddie Oshodi.
They remain unbeaten after seven matches of the campaign, and Newport County's defeat at Dartford meant a place at the head of the table for the first time in four years.
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Yet they started shakily, and they were almost architects of their own downfall in the seventh minute when Aarran Racine's attempted clearance cannoned off Moses Ashikodi and dropped just wide.
That gave Ebbsfleet the shot of belief they needed, and the opening goal five minutes later would not have looked out of place at a much higher level.
It stemmed from a routine free-kick, struck tamely into the wall by Tom Phipp, only for Walsh to get the sweetest of connections to the follow-up and lash the ball past an unsighted Russell from 40 yards.
Liam Daish's men looked intent on making it an uncomfortable evening for the New Lawn faithful, but six minutes later Taylor – recalled in place of the injured Reece Styche – burst clear on the left and squared for the onrushing Klukowski to ram home the equaliser.
Wright had also been brought back into the starting line-up after netting as a substitute three days earlier, and he put Rovers ahead on 26 minutes when a swerving 30-yard effort caught goalkeeper Preston Edwards unawares and squirmed through his hands into the net.
Now it was a completely different contest, and it was 3-0 inside half an hour when Taylor soared to meet James Norwood's cross and flicked a header beyond the reach of Edwards.
Former Republic of Ireland defender Daish's anguish was growing by the minute, and he would have been sickened by the sight of Wright's 40th minute corner travelling all the way to the far post for Oshodi to bundle in goal number four.
Damage limitation might have been top of the visitors' agenda after the break, but Nathan Elder connected well with an early shot and forced Russell to tip over.
Jamie Collins had the next best effort for Forest Green, blazing over after getting on the end of partially cleared free-kick.
Kieron Forbes bent one wide from the edge of the area before Norwood embarked on a magnificent run from deep inside his own half, eventually firing narrowly past the far upright.
Norwood was on the end of a sweeping move with eight minutes remaining but failed to keep his shot down from a tight angle, leaving Ebbsfleet to see the night through with no further embarrassment.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Turley, A. Racine, E. Oshodi, E. Asafu-Adjaye; K. Forbes, J. Collins (A. Bangura 63), Y. Klukowski; J. Norwood (R. Styche 86), M. Taylor, B. Wright (O. Koroma 78); Subs not used: J. Rowe, P. Marsh.
Ebbsfleet United: P. Edwards; C. Stone, P. Lorraine, P. Walsh, J. Howe; L. Azeez (L. Enver-Marum 56), P. Ada (L. Bellamy 55), N. Barrett, T. Phipp; N. Elder, M. Ashikodi (B. Greenhalgh 71); Subs not used: R. Blake, L. Menz.
Referee: L. Swabey (Devon)
Star man: Ben Wright